Problems. They are common to us all. Ann Romney wrote “Everybody has problems. Everyone has issues. ” and 2000 years ago Jesus said “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” We all have problems and difficulties in our lives. Sometimes they can be simple, and only in our thoughts do they become serious. At times in my life there have been people who came up to me and said “It’s not as bad as it seems!” And as time passed and I could look backwards I could see the truth in their statement. But at the time all I could see was the problem and they seemed insurmountable. Other times those problems can be overwhelming and at times can be worse than we feel them to be.
What makes the difference is what we do with those problems. Even the limitations and problems associated with life, like disabilities and birth defects which can be immense hurdles to overcome don’t have to be things which keeps us weighed down. Problems exist for everyone. What needs to be looked at is what is happening in you during the problems.
Every person born has meaning and purpose. The Psalmist wrote “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.… Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalms 139:13,16 NLT And often times what we fail to notice is it is the problems that we encounter each day which allow that purpose to be lived out.
Alfred Adler, a pioneering psychologist in the early 1900’s, performed several studies with people
with birth defects, physical ailments, mental issues, poverty and other characteristics we see as disadvantages. Over time he determined that success is not achieved in spite of those perceived disadvantages . It’s achieved because of them. Many great people in our society rose up and overcame some serious difficulties and troubles. Our greatest hero’s are not those people who were great without adversity. Our greatest hero’s are those who became great and accomplished great things in spite of the great adversity.
I learned this lesson myself reading about Joseph in my Bible. Joseph was a young man who was the spoiled rotten brat who was the favorite son of his father Jacob, and he was given a coat of many colors and usually was flaunting the fact the he was the favorite. As a result he was deeply hated by his brothers. If you want to read his story it is found in Genesis 37-50. After awhile having had to put up with Joseph long enough his brother saw an opportunity to be rid of him and sold him into slavery. Joseph spent much of his formative years in hardship and trials living as a slave, and then spent 13 years in prison simply because he wouldn’t sleep with his masters wife. That is a lot of trouble to deal with for a young man.
The important part of Joseph’s story though isn’t the wrongs done to him, or the hardships and difficulties he faced or for how long he had to endure. What was important was the fact that the trials actually formed and shaped his character to the point where he was a wise and thoughtful man, and not just a spoiled brat.
All the problems we face in life have the opportunity to do the same things for us if we allow them to. We don’t get to choose if we have problems. We do get to choose how we respond to the problems though. We get to choose if they will make us bitter or better. Some of the most valuable lessons I have learned in my life that have formed me into the man I am today have come from some of the darkest seasons in my life.
Corrie Ten Boom survived the Nazi concentration camps and watched her whole family and many of her friends die would later talk about all of those experiences and the lessons she learned from them and she wrote
My life is but a weaving between my God and me, I do not choose the colors, He works so steadily, Oft times He weaves in sorrow, and I in foolish pride, Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside. Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly Will God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why. The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver’s skillful hand, As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
What will happen in you as a result of your problems?