• 48°

Make friends with problems

“Make friends with problems in your life. The best way to befriend your problems is to thank Me for them. This simple act opens your mind to the possibility of benefits flowing from your difficulties. You can even give persistent problems nicknames, helping you to approach them with familiarity rather than with dread.” — From “Jesus Calling”

The phrases that caught our attention: Make friends with problems and give persistent problems nicknames. Friends of problems? Nicknames?

How strange. So, for the next few moments my wife and I laughed and identified problems, then we called-out silly names and laughed some more. What if our problems are people? Do we rename the persistent problem to protect the innocent, or uh, the guilty? More laughter.

After we calmed down, we read the rest of the devotion: “Every problem can teach you something, transforming you little by little into the masterpiece I created you to be. Or, the very same problem can become a stumbling block. The choice is up to you and you will have to choose many times whether to trust God or defy God.”

Every problem can teach something or be a stumbling block. The choice is up to me, so my really persistent problems only have one name and that is, (gulp) Larry.

Problems happen, but the solution is not as simple as learning quick fixes. The root of my problem inevitably leads to the space between my ears and to the depths of my soul – attitude and spirit.

• I am the one who must make choices as to my attitude in dealing with problems.

• I am the one who must make choices as to what and who controls my response.

So, I stopped laughing and thought about choices I need to make.

• I choose to acknowledge that facing my problems must include facing me.

• I choose to acknowledge that I need God to provide direction in the midst of turmoil.

• I choose to acknowledge that I need the encouragement of other people in my life.

• I choose to continually find creative ways to “Love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, and all my mind.” And, “Love my neighbor as myself.”

When I make better choices, my problems won’t disappear, but they no longer control my life or dampen my faith. Every problem can teach me or become a stumbling block. The choice is up to me, my attitude, and my relationship with God.

Another way to look at our problems and the choices we make comes from Isaiah: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you. Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal rock.” — Isaiah 26:3-4

Four key phrases:

• Perfect peace: Wholeness, quietness of spirit, safety, blessing and happiness of heart.

• All who trust in you: Your peace based on trust and faith in God will set an example.

• Trust in the Lord always: We trust God more and more. Trust and faith is the Bible’s antidote to fear. Trust grows stronger as we focus on Christ instead of crisis.

• Eternal rock: As we keep our minds on God, trust God and experience God’s perfect peace, we find strength for daily needs. We have strength sufficient, strength eternally.

Every problem can either be a stumbling block or teach something, transforming you little by little into the masterpiece you were created to be. My choice is to strive for perfect peace as I learn to trust in God as my eternal rock: Never easy but worth striving for.

Problems will always be a part of life but how we choose to respond — learning a valuable lesson or allowing problems to become a stumbling block defines our faith. God’s promise when facing persistent problems? “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You. Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal rock.”

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.