Got Problems? Welcome to Christianity
April 3, 2022
Got Problems? Welcome to Christianity
Raise your hand if you happen to have problems with your family, relationships, finances, or just life in general?
Well you’re not abnormal and you’re not alone.
God never promised us a trouble-free life, but what He did promise us is to help us through every challenge that life throws at us.
Max Lucado “Lower your expectations of earth. This isn’t heaven, so don’t expect it to be.”
Countless times people have come to me after giving their life over to Jesus and have become frustrated with their Christian walk because they thought that their life would be so much better after giving their lives over to Christ. At times, it even got worse.
Sorry to say, those problems are still going to be there but now, you have a Helper.
A Realistic View of Life
Let’s take a look at 2 powerful scriptures that give a realistic and yet hopeful view of God and life.
Psalm 34:19 (NLT) “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.”
Psalm 34:19 (AMP) “Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, But the Lord rescues him from them all.”
John 16:33 (NLT) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Life Application Study Bible Notes on John 16:33: “With these words He (Jesus) told his disciples to take courage. In spite of the inevitable struggles they would face, they would not be alone. Jesus does not abandon us to our struggles either. If we remember that the ultimate victory has already been won, we can claim the peace of Christ in the most troublesome times.”
There’s one solid undeniable truth with these two verses: if we live in this world, we are going to face some challenges.
How many of you would prefer to live a problem-free life?
From Tony Cooke’s book “Through the Storms”:
I heard a story about a man who went down for prayer after a church service. The minister asked how he could pray for him. The man said, “I want you to pray that I’ll never have any more troubles with the devil.” “Do you want me to pray that you’ll die?” the minister responded. The man responded, “No,” so the minister informed him, “That’s the only way in the world that you are never going to have any more trouble with the devil.”
Henry Beecher said “You have come into a hard world. I know of only one easy place in it, and that is the grave.”
Do I have to be perfect to have no problems?
Have you ever thought, what if I can just do everything perfectly – make the right decisions and do the right thing 100% of the time – then I’ll never have any problems, right?
Let’s take a look at the only life that was lived perfectly, every decision made to perfection. His name is Jesus!
*God sent Jesus to earth, and the first thing an evil king did was put “a hit” out on Him. An assassination squad attempted to kill Jesus while He was still a small child.
*Jesus was reviled, hated, despised, and accused of being a blasphemer by the Pharisees. On many occasions, people tried to kill Him.
*Jesus’ own family thought he was crazy and deranged according to Mark 3:21. *And when those who belonged to Him (His kinsomen) heard it, they went out to take Him by force, for they kept saying, “He is out of His mind (beside Himself, deranged)!”
*Jesus’ close friend betrayed him and then committed suicide.
*Eventually, Jesus was crucified.
If you struggle with personal perfection, these facts will ruin anyone’s plan to attain a problem-free life. If Jesus couldn’t do it, neither can we.
The Word of God teaches us to be realistically optimistic. If we are optimistic without being grounded in reality, we can easily become a Pollyanna-type: naive, unrealistic. We can easily end up jaded, cynical, pessimistic, and even fatalistic, meaning a belief that all events are inevitable, so my choices and actions make no definitive difference.
Being realistically optimistic is consistent with Jesus’ admonition to his disciples to “be as clever as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Matt. 10:16 (NCV)
How to Deal with Difficulties and Challenges in Life
So now we know that we’re inevitably going to face challenges in life, how do we deal with them?
Difficulties in marriage: Billy Graham said “For a married couple to expect perfection in each other is unrealistic.”
The Apostle Paul was blunt when he said, “…those who marry will face many troubles in life…” (I Cor. 7:28 NIV).
Does this mean that we should all expect to have an unbearably miserable marriage? Not at all. We should all be striving for better, more healthy, growing marriages. But we shouldn’t be shocked whenever issues come up that we have to work through, challenges to overcome, and problems that we have to resolve.
Many people go into marriage thinking the other person will fix their problems and assuming that it will be constant euphoria. When we do that, we set ourselves up for a huge disappointment.
Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great recounts a conversation he had with Admiral Jim Stockdale, a decorated war veteran and the highest-ranking U.S. military officer to be imprisoned during the Vietnam War.
Collin asked, “What separates people, Stockdale taught me, is not the presence or absence of difficulty, but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life. In wrestling with life’s challenges, the Stockdale Paradox (you must retain faith that you will prevail in the end and you must also confront the brutal facts of your current reality) has proved powerful for coming back from difficulties not weakened, but stronger….”
- Retain your faith
- Confront brutal facts of your current reality
So in other words, when facing issues, say, with your marriage, you have to pray and ask God to work in your marriage. Hold fast in the truth that God is going to help you and give you wisdom on how to be a better spouse. But then you have to confront the brutal facts of the current situation you are in. If you have issues with lusting and looking at porn, that’s something that you’re going to have to deal with and get help. If you have anger issues, you’re going to have to work on being more patient and less combative. If you have control issues, you’re going to need to ask God to help you loosen up and try not to be so naggy when things don’t get done your way or when you want them. If you have a spending problem, you and your spouse are going to need to get on a budget and have some accountability with each other.
President Theodore Roosevelt: “We must face the facts as they are. We must neither surrender ourselves to foolish optimism, nor succumb to a timid and ignoble pessimism.” Roosevelt also said, “I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life; the life of toil and effort; of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires more easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship or from better toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.”
Helen Keller “A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.”
Excerpt from Tony Cooke’s book Through the Storms:
God is not just the basis for our optimism, but He is also very much a part of our reality! God is real. His promises are real. His Presence is real. His power is real. Faith in God does not give us blanket immunity from all the problems of the world, but it does give us an entirely different framework and perspective on how to deal with those problems.
The faith component in all of this does not negate our doing our part, but it adds an element of reliance upon a God “who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Proverbs 21:31 (NASB) says, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle but victory belongs to the Lord” The Message Version reads: “Do your best, prepare for the worst-then trust God to bring victory.”
Notice that in these stories, these people were told to prepare for a real battle. Faith in God is not an excuse to not properly prepare in the natural. Plainly said: Faith in God does not mean we should be negligent in practical areas.
Sometimes, there’s no “spiritual attack” from the enemy that you’re facing, it’s just that you’re being lazy.
We can’t blame God when our car totally breaks down but we haven’t changed the oil regularly or maintained it well.
We can’t blame God when our marriage falls apart because we can’t control our anger or haven’t paid attention to our spouse’s needs or have cheated on them and haven’t repented from it.
We can’t blame God when we have health issues, but He’s been urging you to eat better and start exercising for years.
As you see, there are two sides to seeing a miracle happen:
1) Faith: which is trusting and believing in God’s promises and His Word that He can do anything and will work everything out on His part.
2) Practical: where there is an obedient side of things that we have to fleshly work out things on our part that God is instructing us to do, and if we don’t, He can’t move.
Nehemiah and Building the Wall
Nehemiah had huge faith in God, but faith didn’t stop him from taking natural preparations and precautions while rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
Neh. 4:16-18 “But from then on, only half my men worked while the other half stood guard with spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. The leaders stationed themselves behind the people of Judah 17 who were building the wall. The laborers carried on their work with one hand supporting their load and one hand holding a weapon. 18 All the builders had a sword belted to their side. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.”
Nehemiah and all of his men truly believed that victory was from the Lord, but they still naturally prepared themselves for war. While half of the men worked to build the wall, the other half stood guard with weapons.
Similarly when David faced Goliath, he believed that God was with him, but he still selected five smooth stones to be used with his sling. (See I Samuel 17:45-47)
When God puts His “super” on our “natural”, it equals a supernatural occurance.
With some situations in life, we have to give God something to work with in the natural for Him to work with in the supernatural.
The Apostle Paul had an unwavering love for the churches he started. He would often often go around and visit and sometimes revisit certain churches that needed extra encouragement and strengthening. In Acts 14:22 “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’”
So while trying to revisit certain churches, things didn’t always go the way he planned, and circumstances weren’t always favorable for him.
In I Thessalonians 2:18, Paul talks about a hindrance that kept him from revisiting the believers on more than one occasion, “Therefore we wanted to come to you – even I, Paul, time and again – but Satan hindered us”.
The Greek word that Paul uses here that is translated hindrance means: to cut in on someone, to impede one’s course by cutting off his way, to detain, to thwart, to impede someone by breaking up the road, or by placing an obstacle in their path.
Have you ever felt like you were held back from things that you knew were getting in the way of God’s best for your life? Can you relate to Paul?
Paul wasn’t just hindered in Thessalonica; He also told of delays he faced going to believers in Rome:
I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.
“…I also have been much hindered from coming to you”. Rom. 15:22
Paul eventually made it back to Thessalonica and also Rome, but in both cases it took him longer than what he would have liked.
It’s important to understand that having faith doesn’t mean that you never face difficulties and setbacks in life; faith means that you persevere and continue to trust God in spite of those setbacks. It’s also important not to become overwhelmed and impatient when we do face these setbacks and delays.
Whether it be healing for your body you’re standing for, or for a relationship to get better, or a job situation to get better or business opportunity to come through that you know is from God, stand your ground, and trust in God’s faithfulness. He will come through for you!
Satan does have influence over this world and is referred to as the god of this world (in 2 Cor. 4:4, NLT), and he does have influence in this natural realm. However, we shouldn’t exalt Satan or give him undue attention. He is not omniscient, omnipotent, or omnipresent, and has been defeated by the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ!
Our focus needs to be mainly on Jesus and His promises in His Word. We should always focus on the fact that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4).
We should not go through life preoccupied and obsessed with thinking about the enemy. That will only exacerbate anxiety and get your focus on the problem rather than the solution.On the other hand, we shouldn’t be “ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Either extreme puts us in a bad predicament. We have to be balanced.
Not every problem we face in life is directly attributable to the devil; some things happen just because we live in a fallen world that we share with other imperfect people. Regardless of where problems come from, we have a God who has promised us that He will always be with us, and that He will help us, empower us, and deliver us.
God never promised us a problem-free life when giving our lives over to Him. But what He has promised is to help us through every adversity and challenge.
Troubles in life have the potential to bring about spiritual growth in us.
James 1:2-3 “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
God is not a shuttle to take us out of the battle; He’s our refuge in the midst of it.
Israelites facing huge troubles in their life in the OT, God speaks to them:
Ex. 33:14 “The LORD replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest — everything will be fine for you.”
God invites us into that rest in Him today through a relationship with Him.
4 Things to Do when Facing a Problem:
- Pray and listen for the voice of God. “John 6:63 “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.” Isaiah 30:21 “Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.” LASB notes (When the people of Jerusalem left God’s path, he would correct them. He will do the same for us. But when we hear his voice of correction, we must be willing to follow it!)
- Worship and Rejoice in the face of problems. “Philippians 4:4;7 “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!..Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
- Be patient and don’t make a hasty/not well thought-out decision. Rom. 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Rom. 8:25 “But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.”
- Seek wise counsel from pastors/mentors in your life. Prov. 15:22 “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Prov. 11:14 “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers.”