Why should we look at problems differently than the world does?
Meant for Evil
If Joseph had not been thrown into a pit to die, his brothers wouldn’t have sold him to slave traders. If Joseph hadn’t been sold to slave traders, he wouldn’t have been sold to Potiphar’s household. If He hadn’t been sold to Potiphar’s household, he wouldn’t have been unfairly accused and thrown into prison. If Joseph hadn’t been unfairly accused and thrown into prison, he wouldn’t have interpreted the two prisoner’s dreams. If Joseph hadn’t interpreted the two men’s dreams, he wouldn’t have had a chance to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and if he hadn’t interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, he wouldn’t have been put in second command of all Egypt and if not for that, the great seven-year famine that came would have caused millions to die including Jacob and the nation of Israel, so when Joseph finally saw his brothers, he said, “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen 50:20). Joseph didn’t deny that what they did was evil; he only shows that God can use evil for good. The cross is the greatest example.
I remember taking college algebra, and it was very, very hard for me. That’s because math was not one of my favorite subjects, so when I was trying to solve equations, I had failure after failure, and it seemed nothing worked. I finally tried one last time and the problem was solved, but I also saw what I was doing wrong in solving these equations. My repeated failures caused me to find a solution, but a solution not only to this problem, but to help me solve the other equations too. If I’d given up, I’d never have solved it, and who knows, I might not have finished college. The point being, we can make our failures final or we can make them solutions by persevering. Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before finding a long-lasting lightbulb. I would’ve probably given up, and someone else would have ended up being the inventor of the light bulb.
Get our Attention
If our problems begin to pile up on us, God may be trying to get our attention. God is infinitely better than any parent and God disciplines us when we need it (and I surely do). The difference is we might discipline our children out of anger but God does it out of love. If things begin to get interesting in life, God may be using these problems to draw us back to Himself. We might think, “I feel so separated from God and He seems so far away,” but who moved; us or God? I recall a woman who brought her husband in to the ER for stomach pains, thereby ruining their European vacation because they’d missed their flight to Europe. The husband was angry and didn’t want to go, but after an examination, it was discovered that the man’s appendix had burst. If he had taken that several-hour flight to Europe, he may have died. His “problem” that messed up their vacation ensured that he might live to take another one.
They Humble Us
If there is one thing that our problems can do to us, it can humble us. We’re not in the mood for boasting or bragging when we’re in deep trouble. It may weigh us down so much that it may drop us to our knees, and maybe that’s what God was waiting for all this time. If something brings us into a closer relationship with the Father, then it is helped us immensely, even if it’s a problem. We already have God’s promise “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). Some manuscripts say, “God works all things together for good” or “God works in all things for the good.” I like both of them because they’re both true. Even though I know it’s true, I must admit I don’t always act like it or think like it. When people are put under great pressure, and they’re under the “heat,” so to speak, they can either become coal or a diamond, because that’s how both are formed. Without the tremendous pressure and heat, we wouldn’t have all these precious jewels and gems. It’s like the oyster; a grain of sand enters it, it irritates the oyster, it forms a calcium deposit around it, and as the irritation grows, now from the weight of the object, a valuable pearl is formed. I don’t need to tell you that they’re a lot of irritations in life, but these are worth it because we seek the Pearl of Great Price at all cost; at least we should (Matt 13:45-46). Jesus and our salvation is priceless.
Jesus didn’t see the cross as a problem to solve, but a cross to bear, and bear for our sakes who would trust in Him. Jesus’ crucifixion was seen as a huge validation that Jesus was not the Messiah. They Jews and Romans saw Jesus’ death on a cross as a total and utter defeat, but what a victory it wrought. That’s because, what they meant for evil did infinite good, because those who trust in Christ, even if they die, will yet live again (John 11:25-26). Aren’t we glad Peter didn’t talk Jesus out of going to the cross? What if Peter had his way? Where would we be now? What if I want my way? Will I get similar results? Most likely, yes. May I allow problems to work in my, to humble me, to make me seek You oh God. May I bare my cross for you to Your glory.