A New Understanding

As I look back on my life, it's interesting to think about what I once considered a "problem."

Let's think about the word problem.

(According to Google) A problem is a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.

Now let's break this down.

Part One: a problem is a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful.

No one actually welcomes problems into their lives, do they? No one wakes up one morning and says, "You know what, I want to welcome cancer into my life today. I want to welcome it with open arms and to enjoy every second of it." Or, "I think I'm going to choose to lose my job today, to lose all of my money, and become homeless." That just doesn't happen: no one CHOOSES to struggle.

Plain and simple, as long as there are people on this planet, bad things will continue to happen to good people. Horrible circumstances will always come to the holiest of people. It doesn't matter who you are or where you are, you will struggle in some way in this lifetime. There's no use in trying to avoid the struggle.

So yes, EVERY family has its problems - no matter how "perfect" it may seem to an outsider. Yet no one actually welcomes these problems with open arms. Right?

Wrong.

I'd like to introduce you to a friend of mine named James. James is one of those people who doesn't necessarily enjoy his problems, but he welcomes them with open arms anyway. He chooses to put aside his own desires and dreams for his life, instead making the conscious decision to welcome whatever trial or tribulation that comes his way.

"Consider it pure JOY, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds.
For you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in NOTHING."
James 1:2-4

Okay, so I've never exactly met James before. He's not exactly alive today. But his words are with me in every moment, when I wake and when I sleep. His words are powerful, and they pierce my heart, stirring my soul awake from its slumber.

The super cool thing about James is that his stellar words are not his own. When James tells us in his writings in the New Testament to "consider" our trials "pure joy," the Lord is speaking and writing through him. James did not come up with this stuff. These are the words of the Spirit. Through James, God challenges us to question our own manmade definition of a "problem." We say a problem is a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful. God says, through James, that perhaps a trial is not to be considered unwelcome or harmful...perhaps "trials of many kinds" are to be welcomed with open arms, and to be considered a "pure JOY." What a different way of viewing the things we once considered serious problems in our lives.

Part Two: a problem needs to be dealt with and overcome.

Here is where we have a tendency to run into some serious trouble.

Okay God, so I'm going to give the whole "welcome-your-problems-with-open-arms" thing a try, but just let me do the work, okay? I've got it all under control.

WRONG.

It is not your responsibility to solve the world's problems. It is not even your responsibility to solve your own problems.

One of the most beautiful lessons you could ever learn in life is how to let go.

Sometimes the answer to all of our problems is to let go of our problems, realizing that WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL.

So is a problem really something that needs to be dealt with and overcome?

If you're so focused on "dealing with" a problem in your life, you may completely overlook the HUGE lessons that could be learned from the problem. If you're so focused on "overcoming" your current situation, you may miss the golden opportunity to grow through this situation.

When you think back on the moments of your life, I'm sure you will agree without hesitation that the moments in which you experience the greatest growth are the moments when you may have been surrounded by complete and utter darkness. Darkness brings growth.

Yet what we must realize is that it is not our duty to light up this darkness or to tame the chaos of our life.

That is where the Lord steps in.
The Lord is the light; we are not the light that is capable of ridding this world of darkness.
The Lord brings peace; we are not the peace needed to mend a broken heart.
The Lord restores life; we are not what this life is all about.

You see, we simply cannot do it without the Lord's help. What is "it," you may ask? Well, I'm not sure. "It" can be whatever you want it to be.

We simply cannot overcome our problems without the Lord's help.
We cannot overcome addiction without the Lord's help.
We cannot overcome family issues without the Lord's help.
We cannot overcome temptation without the Lord's help.
We cannot overcome disloyalty without the Lord's help.

So why are we still trying to do this on our own?

"I will fight for you," the Lord says to us.
"You only have to BE STILL."
Exodus 14:14
Song of the Week:
Let go like the wind...
Be still like the stillness of the water...
And watch how He restores your life.

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