Friday, June 30
There are three different types of problems, which sometimes can also be referred to as opportunities. First, there are problems that are only problems because our perception of the situation is not what it should be. Second, there are problems that are in our control and could be solved if we put our mind to it. Lastly, there are troubling situations in our lives that we have little or no control over. They all can rob our peace and happiness, but fortunately the first two types of problems can be eliminated. But how can we find peace and happiness if there is a problem that won’t go away and we can’t do anything about?
Some examples of the type of problem where our perception needs to be altered are when they forget to put the French fries in the bag at the drive thru, when you can’t watch your television show because someone else had the television first, or when the strap on your purse breaks. If these types of things make you upset or unhappy, you need to work on your perspective in life. Stuff happens; we need to learn how to deal with it without getting so upset. These are not the types of “problems” that I want to talk about today.
The types of problems in our control are that I cough too much because I smoke, I am getting poor grades in school because I waste too much time, or I don’t have enough energy because I am overweight. We can solve these problems with a good dose of self-discipline. Stop smoking, do your homework, exercise, and eat less. You’ll be amazed at how your problems will disappear. I’m not saying it will necessarily be easy, but it can be done. I am also not going to talk anymore about these types of problems today.
I’ll be honest; I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people that get upset about the small stuff that aren’t really problems (sometimes referred to as first-world problems) or for people that have self-inflicted problems that they could fix if they wanted to. However, there are problems that are quite real and there is little or nothing they can do to fix them. They can be quite serious in nature and can very easily rob you of your peace and happiness. I am talking about someone with an alcoholic spouse that refuses to get help, yourself or a loved one that has been diagnosed with an incurable disease, someone who has been paralyzed due to an injury, a parent who has a child who refuses to be a Christian, someone who made a big mistake and will be spending the rest of their life in prison, or someone who just had a parent die. These problems are real and they suck. These problems might not go away. They can really weigh on your heart and mind and they can make you extremely sad or very stressed out. How can you still have peace and happiness if your problem doesn’t go away?
The answer lies in Philippians 4:6-9. In verse 6 we are told to never be anxious and to let our requests be known to God through earnest prayer and thanksgiving. Verse 7 does not say that your problem will go away; instead, it says you will receive the peace of God that surpasses all comprehension. God is saying that He will give you peace in your heart and mind in situations that peace doesn’t even seem possible. How can you feel true peace when you know someone you dearly love is going to die soon? That doesn’t begin to make sense, but that is exactly what God said, it surpasses comprehension. It makes no sense that you could have peace, but God can give you an amazing gift of peace that we can’t understand because He is God.
I had a problem that pretty much sucked the joy out of my life for a long time. I tried hard to make the problem go away, but to no avail. I really struggled with this because I had always had a pretty easy life with few problems, and I couldn’t change this situation no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t know what to do. Then I stumbled across Philippians 4:8, which is now one of my favorite verses in the Bible because of the peace and happiness that it gave back to me. “Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” It all makes perfect sense. If we dwell on the stuff that makes us sad or stressed out, we are going to be sad or stressed out. Duh. If we dwell on the excellent things in life that make us happy, we are going to be happy. It was too simple, but I couldn’t figure that out until I read that verse. It was life-changing. Do I still think of my problem from time to time? Sure, but I don’t dwell on it. I will no longer let it rob my joy.
If you have a problem that you can’t fix, pray for some peace that surpasses comprehension and start dwelling on the good things in life. It works.
(Photo Credit: https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Phil%204.8)