Every morning, my wife and I read “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young. The devotions provide a framework to help us share our daily encounters with God and discuss and pray about what God is doing in our lives. But recently as we read our devotion, we had a different reaction:
“Make friends with problems in your life. Though many things feel random and wrong, remember that I am sovereign over everything. The best way to befriend your problems is to thank Me for them. This simple act opens your mind to the possibility of benefits flowing from your difficulties. You can even give persistent problems nicknames, helping you to approach them with familiarity rather than with dread.” — “Jesus Calling”
The phrases that caught our attention were:
- Make friends with problems in your life…
- Give persistent problems nicknames…
As we read, “give persistent problems nicknames” we both started laughing. Nicknames? What a strange idea! So, for the next few moments we identified problems and called-out silly names and laughed again. What if our problems are people? Do we rename the problem to protect the innocent, or uh, the guilty? More laughter.
After we calmed down, we read the rest of the devotion: “Every problem can teach you something, transforming you little by little into the masterpiece I created you to be. The very same problem can become a stumbling block over which you fall, if you react with distrust and defiance. The choice is up to you and you will have to choose many times whether to trust Me or defy Me.”
Every problem can teach something or be a stumbling block. The choice is up to me so my really persistent problems only have one nickname and that name is, (gulp) Larry.
Problems happen but the solution is not as simple as learning quick fixes. The root of my problem inevitably leads to the space between my ears and to the depths of my soul: Attitude and Spirit.
- I am the one who must make choices as to my attitude in dealing with problems.
- I am the one who must make choices as to what and who controls my response.
Therefore: I choose to acknowledge that my problems include me and how I face them. I choose to acknowledge that I need God in my life to provide direction in the midst of turmoil. I choose to acknowledge that God created me to need other people in my life so I must continually find creative ways to ‘Love the lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, and all my mind.’ And, ‘Love my neighbor as myself.” – From Luke 10:27
If I can learn to make better choices about me and my relationship with God then problems don’t disappear but they don’t control my life or dampen my faith. Every problem can teach me or become a stumbling block. The choice is up to me, my attitude and my walk with God.
Another way to look at our problems and the choices we make comes from a devotion based on Isaiah: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the lord always, for the lord god is the eternal Rock.” — Isaiah 26:3-4
The writer pointed to four key phrases:
- Perfect peace: Wholeness, quietness of spirit, safety, blessing and happiness of heart.
- All who trust in you: Your peace based on trust and faith in God will set an example.
- Trust in the Lord always: We trust God more and more. Trust and faith is the Bible’s antidote to fear. Trust grows stronger as we focus on Christ instead of on crisis.
- Eternal rock: As we keep our minds on God, trust God and experience God’s perfect peace, we find strength for daily needs. We have strength sufficient, strength eternally.
Every problem can be a stumbling block or teach something, transforming you little by little into the masterpiece you were created to be. My choice is to strive for perfect peace as I learn to trust in God as my eternal rock: Never easy but worth striving for.
Problems will always be a part of life but how we choose to respond: learning a valuable lesson or allowing the problem to become a stumbling block defines our faith. God’s promise in the midst of even persistent problems: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.”