<<troubles, difficulties>>

Problems are part of the consequences of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, so there are no trouble-free environments this side of heaven (Gen 3:16-19)! “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). We can be confident because no problems or any other negative force can separate us from the love of Christ. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” for “Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (Rom 8:35,37; 2 Cor 4:17).

While becoming a Christian doesn’t exempt us from problems  and although we are a target for the various attacks of Satan, we have the divine resources of the Holy Spirit, the Word (Bible) and our faith (confession) to combat difficulties and live victoriously as we ask God for His help. Satan’s desire is for the problem to break us, choking out our spiritual life and make us unfruitful (Mk 4:19). God’s goal

Problems are the starting place for more growth

is to bring us into wholeness and develop Christ-like character as we grow in our relationship with Him by walking in dependency and trust. Don’t focus on the problems and your weaknesses but let them drive you towards and not away from God.

Problems are unavoidable in a sinful world but some are preventable or can be solved ourselves by careful planning; others by seeking advice and receiving counsel from experts in a particular field; while divine intervention through prayer may be the only remedy on some occasions as we trust Him and do what we know we should do. Hope is an ‘anchor for the soul’ providing security and the eternal perspective that this difficulty won’t last forever, meanwhile it will assist in building strong character and help us to be sensitive to others who are struggling (Rom 5:3-5; 2 Cor 1:3-5; Heb 6:19).

A typical human reaction is to criticise, blame others, or run from problems yet ‘wiping your hands’ of situations do not solve them or reduce personal responsibility (Mt 27:24). Running from temptation is a wise practice, while that approach to problems seldom solves them. Unless we recognise and face the problem, by taking ownership and not making excuses, we are powerless to apply the solution; we

Look for solutions rather than someone to blame

also need to have a right attitude, accept responsibility for our faults, being tolerant and patient with others, and following through on the remedy to eliminate future hassles.

Do we view adversities as stepping-stones in life’s pathway, a means of advancing, or as obstacles – a catalyst for growth or what will hinder progress? A problem is something that exists to be solved – if met with a positive mental attitude and faith problems are ‘opportunities in disguise’ to develop our capabilities, help us mature and gain experience (Jas 1:2-4,12). Consider them God’s ordained means to bring about His purposes for your life; determine to be an overcomer, transforming the problems into blessings by His grace, not being overcome by life’s challenges. Depending on how we face them, problems either develop or defeat us.

Opportunities always accompany problems; problems always come with opportunities – they are in-separably linked. When experiencing problems, check to see if you have brought them on yourself through sin, unwise choices, wrong actions or a lack of proactive motivation, recognizing the love of self is the cause of most personal problems.  Don’t react in self-pity when things don’t go your way, commit yourself to God and if possible endeavour to bring about the desired change. By taking matters into his own hands through impatience, Abraham fathered Ishmael by Sarah’s maid, not understanding that Sarah was to be the mother of the promised son (Gen 12:2, 13:16, 16:1-4, 17:16).

Don’t try and solve problems on your own, but submit yourself to Jesus, casting all your care on Him, and working with Him to be victorious, receiving mercy and grace in your time of need (Eph 6:11-18; Heb 4:16; 1 Pet 5:7). Confess any sin you are aware of, make behavioural changes as required and ask God to strengthen you for future tests. Keep your Spirit sweet. Trust and commit yourself to God

View problems as solvable challenges

knowing He is looking for those whose hearts are right before Him so He can work on their behalf (2 Chr 16:9; 1 Pet 2:23). Rather than losing heart, to gain a better perspective, bring God into the equation then the problem won’t be as big when seen from His point of view (Heb 12:3). Jesus promised, “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20; Heb 13:5).  He is walking with us through the problems and wants to be invited to help us. Pray for creative ways to solve them – a pearl is an oyster’s resourceful response to an irritation. Deal with the problems as they arise, don’t allow them to grow in size or number. Our response to problems reveals our character.

Don’t become disappointed, withdrawn or bitter with God when life gets tough and problems occur.  Maintain your faith despite them – remember God has good plans for us and our attitude has an important part to play in the outworking of them (Jer 29:11). Job had a proper attitude to problems – he didn’t blame or question God’s goodness but praised Him in spite of them, as did Paul and Silas (Job 1:21,22, 42:10; Act 16:22-35). God worked on their behalf after they praised Him and prayed for others – both these responses are outward focused, looking beyond the personal situation. Prayer together with praise should be our first response.

Hold onto the vision or call you believe God has spoken to you and even during discouragement affirm He will fulfill His purpose for your long term good as you co-operate with Him for He works out all things in accordance with His will (Ps 138:8; Rom 8:28; Eph 1:11,12; 1 Thes 3:3). Having a right perception (it’s for our good) and right perspective (it’s not such a major threat) will enable us to come through life’s problems victoriously for God uses adversity and problems in our lives to: examine or test what is in our hearts and who is Lord – Christ or self (Jas 1:2-4); discipline and give guidance, "Before I was afflicted I went astray but now I obey your Word" (Ps 119:67); to refine and improve our character (Rom 5:3-5).

If others are the source of problems, maintain a right attitude to those who have caused or are the problem, although aware we may have contributed in some measure for which we are responsible.

It’s not so much about what happens to us, but rather our response, so be more committed to Christ than to the thing that has gone wrong. If handled correctly all our problems are outworking something in us that will be an inspiration to others, and will give us the ability to help, yet instead of rescuing them ask ‘what’s your plan to solve it?’

Our response to problems makes or breaks us

This encourages them grow as they think through the various options instead of expecting us to resolve it for them as this creates unhealthy dependency.

Being godly is no exemption from problems but their harmful effect is far less devastating “The fear of the Lord leads to life, then one rests content, untouched by trouble” (Prov 19:23). This is not immunity from difficulty, rather experiencing grace and protection from its eternally destructive ability (Rom 8:35; 1 Pet 3:13). Paul who could speak from experience said, it is through many trials we will enter into heaven. He was appreciative of those who stood with him in the hardships, stating what happened in his life brought about a spiritual blessing (Act 14:22; 2 Cor 6:3-10; Phil 1:12, 4:14).

Problems present a choice – to co-operate and go God’s way motivating us to a greater level of spirituality than we would otherwise attain, or to think we know best and ultimately create a bigger problem.

See also: challenges, character, choice, circumstances, conflict, defeat, discouragement, hassles, not being ministered to, over-comer, perception, perspective, positive mental attitude, resolve/resolution, response, self-pity, solution, test/testing, trials, trouble, wilderness wanderings.