"We need to understand the problems of our lives
in light of what we believe about God."
The first time I read it, I didn't stop. Somewhere in the middle of the next sentence or two, my mind did a double-take. Say-what?!?
I have to understand the problems of my life (...check)
in light of what I believe (...check)
about God (...hmm...whoa)
Understanding the problems of my life is not a struggle. I've lived with them most of my life. I think and think and think about them. They're right in front of me most days.
And I believe lots of things about those problems. Where they came from. Why they happened. Who contributed. How I contributed. When things went sideways. What the right solution looks like. How I can/should fix the problem. How I can't fix the problem.
Sigh. Not so easy.
That relationship problem of mine. How does what I believe about God tie to the problem? Again, sigh.
I believe that if God loved me, He would fix that relationship.
I believe that if God really loved me, He would have spared me that pain and disappointment.
I believe that if God was good, things would have turned out differently.
Hmm. Starting to understand my friend's point.
All of those beliefs about God are wrong. Every last one.
And that's where we get into trouble. When we start thinking about God in light of our problems (the flip side to what my friend wrote).
See, I don't want problem relationships. I don't like problem relationships. And, those thoughts about the problems influence my thoughts about God. Focusing my thoughts on the problems cause me to think problematically about God. Do you see it?
What I need to do is focus my thoughts on God, getting a right view of God and His character. Then, think about the problems.
He is Love.
He is Gracious.
He is Faithful.
He is Bigger.
He is Good.
He is Listening.
He is Purposeful.
He is Relational.
And all of those truths are what I need to understand before I can understand my problems.
Because knowing all of that, setting the tone with all of that truth about Him, that is what helps me interpret and respond to my problems.
He loves me - He died for me. He is purposeful in allowing those difficult relationships. He is listening when I cry out to Him for help. His grace is what keeps me above water some days; and it's the same grace that keeps the relationships bonded, rather than fall apart. He's bigger than relational challenges. How's that for understanding my problem more accurately?
So, what about you and your problems?
Try it for yourself. Sit down somewhere quiet. Get a piece of paper, and draw a line down the middle of the page. If you're the brave sort who's ready for some powerful "aha!" moments, label the left column "My Problem" (easy enough) and the right column "What I Currently Believe About God" (as it relates to that problem).
If you prefer a more gentle experience, title your two columns "God's Character" (as in, the truth about Him, found in the Bible) and "What That Means For My Problem" (as in, how the truth about God's character re-frames your thinking about your problems).
Please, get at it. You'll be amazed at what He shows you on that page. You will.
And your problems will likely thank you for it. :-)