Problems have a potential to destroy those who don't get up time and time again with a renewed determination to face them, deal with them, and be finished with them! We can get pretty down if all we do is focus on the problem. When we get our focus outside the problem, into the arena of considering the solutions, we have a chance to actually deal with the issues and get it fixed for good. Yesterday, we looked at the ways we perceive our problems as influencing what we do with them. When we see them as opportunities for our growth rather than challenges to do us in, we face them differently, don't we? I heard a friend once say, "Problems have to be handled on a different level than they were created." That stuck with me all these years - there is more truth in those words than some may think. As long as we remain firmly rooted in the problem, we have no chance to get free of its hold. We find the solutions to the problem on a different "level" than they were created. Maybe this is why God reminds us repeatedly of the need to keep our focus on him - even in the midst of the worst of our problems.
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 MSG)
Our number one principle for dealing with problems is our focus. If we focus on the face of God - we maintain balance and perspective. When do our "solutions" to our problems get us in the most trouble, giving us more headache or heartache than the original problem? Isn't it when we get out of balance or lose sight of the issue? We exert all our energies on this one "fix" which may only "fix" the one side of the issue, but remember - - - all issues have two sides! Balance is important - and it is best obtained when we allow God to define the "sides" of the problem. Truth be told, God often leads us into ways of "fixing" the problem which are completely contrary to the ways we would have perceived the problem being fixed. We need to know it is not so much the "fix" as it is the "right fix" which bring us the relief we so desperately are seeking.
In the midst of our problems, we have a tendency to allow something most of us call "depression" to creep in on us. It may not meet the clinical definition of depression, but we just get into a real "funk" over the issue. It gets us "down" and we just don't want to exert the effort any longer to see it fixed. It seems to be getting the "upper hand" in our lives. So, we fall prey to this idea of "giving up". We need to be on guard when these feelings of "just giving up" creep in. These feelings are a powerful tool when we allow them to be paired with any of our other less reliable emotions such as our fear, frustration, or shame. This feeling of "depression" should be a clear warning sign for us - because it means we either have our focus on the problem, not the solution; or we have our focus on self or other and not on the one capable of solving the problem. We only move "toward" a solution when our focus is right - we have to deal with this desire to "give up" if we are to ever move beyond the problem. When the problem begins to take center-stage, it is time to refocus.
Most of the struggle comes when we see the problem as something capable of defeating us. If you will begin to lay hold of this one truth, it may just help you change your perspective on the problem. The truth: God is an all-powerful God, standing ON BEHALF of his children. As long as I see the truth of God standing ON MY BEHALF, I will face the problem differently. When I begin to believe the lie that God has abandoned me, or doesn't care about me in the midst of my present trouble, I begin to be eaten alive by the problem! If we'd just realize how much God looks for the opportunities to show himself strong on our behalf, we'd stop trying to invent our own "fixes" for the problems we face! Even when God has to carry us for a while, he still loves that he can intervene in the midst of our need in this way.
Some may think I am saying we deny the existence of the gravity or depth of the problem. Oh, quite the contrary is true. We don't deny its existence, nor its depth. But...we need to remember when we focus on its depth, we get deeper into its darkest place! You cannot get sucked into the depths of the problem and not be a little overwhelmed by all the "darkness" surrounding you in the midst of it! There are problems which just bring us a huge sense of "darkness" or "clouded" perception. In the midst of this tough place, we most desperately need to focus on just how close God is to us - for darkness is best faced when someone has the ability to bring light into the darkest place!
Some things I will leave you with today:
- We need to be committed to walking on the right path. If we are, the problems we face are defined for our growth. If we aren't, chance are we are making the problems and we will need to do an about-face to find the way out of them!
- In the midst of the problems which are designed for our growth, we need to remain focused on the goodness and greatness of the God we serve. When we remember he is in control, standing on our behalf, it makes it possible to see the problems differently.
- Problems don't "melt away" - they are worked through. As we are "working through" those problems, the best place to be is close to the heart of Jesus. As we drawn near to him, he draws nearer to us. In turn, we sense him more than we sense the problem. The "fix" is often discovered in the closeness we maintain to the one who "owns the fix" - Jesus. Just sayin!