Life happens! Problems arise. No one escapes difficulties, whether massive or minute. Our family has faced some seasons of rather large “problems.” During these times, I learned two major disciplines, not just for getting through the trial, but for growing through the trial. Both are Biblical and both are practical. When Jesus spoke in parables, He spoke to the people about their ordinary lives. He spoke with very practical words . His Word is just as practical for you and me today.
1. Run to God and Pray.
When we are facing problems, we are tempted to “substitute” or “escape.” I am speaking from adventures in both of these areas. Neither help. When we feel stress, worry, sadness, pain, and the list continues, we often try to find things to substitute, so as to avoid experiencing or working through those emotions. Simply stated, anything can serve as a substitute for dealing with problems. If you have a relationship with Christ, you often will sense the prodding of the Holy Spirit when you are allowing something to be a substitute for Jesus Himself. We know we should sit at the feet of Jesus, and read His Word and listen to Him, but we do not want to because we may need to face our problem and discuss it with the Lord. And we may be just “too busy” to deal with it right now. We avoid the only One who is able to help us.
Furthermore, this scenario is completely the opposite of what will help you through the problem you face. In Isaiah 45:3, the Lord tells His people, “I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” As His child, the Lord summons you to come to Him, and He wants to show you the way to overcome the problem you face. We must come to Him, ready and willing to receive. And if we are not ready and willing, we must tell Him, for He knows everything about us already. Ask Him to grant you the desire to run to Him with your difficulties. So, the first of the two disciplines when facing problems is to RUN TO GOD and PRAY. Hebrews 4:9 says, “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” When you and I go to God, He gives us the rest we need, the inner peace that comes from no other place, or rather Person, but Jesus.
2. Listen and Obey.
Another propensity of human nature, when faced with problems, is to run away. We will do about anything to escape confronting that problem staring straight at us. So, as mentioned, we can busy ourselves to the point of avoiding God, and we can find avenues of escape. Not all avenues are destructive, but nothing we do (or do not do) should keep us from being obedient to God and fufilling the work that He wants us to do in that given day. Often escaping accompanies depression, or just having “the blues.” Then, we find ourselves focusing on that thing we desire to help us escape.
For example, we might focus on what I like to call “rot” television, which can be harmful to keeping our minds stayed on Christ. We may think we are unable to focus on anything constructive. We lie around, sleep too much, avoid friends, avoid going to church, or procrastinate on important tasks, like paying the bills when the money is short. No avenue of escape will enhance the quality of your life, or the quality of the lives around you. “Thus, also faith by itself, if it does not have works, it is dead” James 2:17. The proof of a genuine life in Christ is evidenced by our actions, which is obedience to the Word of God, and prompt obedience at that. Years ago, I heard Pastor David Jeremiah say, “Delayed obedience is disobedience.”
After going to God first, pray and ask Him to help you prioritize your day. Write down the tasks that enter your mind, but not every task you wish to accomplish, just a reasonable list for the day. Follow through on accomplishing these tasks during the day. As a wife and mother, who has faced loss, there have been days that I needed to write down “wash the dishes,” and beg God to give me the will-power and strength to finish that task. When I most needed direction, I learned this from Elisabeth Elliot, who so wonderfully encouraged others moving through grief, to “do the next thing.”
The apostle Paul showed such hope in facing death as he proclaimed, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7. On some days, life really feels like a fight. That is because it is! If you have accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are in a daily battle. However, you and I are not the ones fighting the battle, for the battle has been won. Jesus is the Victor. We know the story, the outcome. Remember who is fighting for you…God, your heavenly Father. No matter what difficulties you and I face in this life, a day will arrive that the things of this life will pass away and eternity remains. The things done in Christ will be revealed. If you wash the dishes, in Christ (with His help, His strength, His power), that step of obedience remains for eternity and your reward awaits you.
Remember, when your circumstances are challenging, run to God. Pray and listen to God through His Word. Then, take steps of obedience throughout your day. Follow through on your daily list, no matter how small and insignificant the task ahead may seem. Learn to develop the discipline of making this your lifestyle by repeating these two steps throughout each day.