There is no mistake that life throws problems at us over and over. We are going to have trouble in this life. It is simply a fact, and if you are like me, then you spend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out solutions to whatever problems arise. We do not like to be troubled by finances, illness, relationship issues or anything else that results in us feeling bad or stressed. Stress caused by life’s trouble is something most of us want resolution to as quickly as possible. So what do we do? Well, that’s where it gets a little more grey, especially for people of faith!
We are assured by Jesus, himself that trouble is going to come. In John 16:33, Jesus ends His words to His disciples by saying, “These things I’ve spoken to you , that you might have peace. In this world you will have trouble and trials, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” In Matthew 6:25-34, He tells us not to worry about things because He knows what we need and will take care of us completely. Then why do we lose so much peace when trouble comes, and why do we spend so much effort trying to come up with a solution to our problems?
Most of us are intelligent people, and God has blessed us with the ability to reason things through and solve all kinds of problems. Our intelligence is a gift directly from God, but so often we take that intelligence and then begin to think that we know better than He does. That sounds stupid when you say it out loud, but consider this: How often do you make decisions based on your own reasoning? How many times have your taken a job because “it makes sense” after considering all the angles? I mean, after all, it’s more money. That’s a no-brainer, right? How many times have you had issues in a relationship and you spend all kinds of time and energy walking through each scenario, trying to ensure you find a way to work things out? Have you ever made a purchase because you think it’s the best fit for you (whether car, house, computer, or anything else you can think of)? My point is that most of us go through life making decisions all the time based on what WE think, without any input from our Heavenly Father. I do it more than I care to admit. I look at a situation, consider all the facts, and then begin a process of finding a solution. It’s only after I hit a brick wall that I turn to God and ask for His help or His input, instead of starting at that point.
When I am faced with problems, no matter what area of life they are in, I become almost obsessed with gathering information and figuring out a solution. People close to me have seen it first-hand. I love puzzles, and I LOVE figuring out the answer to a problem. And you know what? I am good at it. God blessed me with a great brain that can see trends and spot paths through a jumbled mess that will lead to an effective solution. It has served me well in many ways, and most certainly in my professional life. I don’t say that to stroke my ego, but rather as a statement of fact. It’s been that way ever since I was a child. The problem with that ability is that it becomes very easy to rely on that rather than to trust God to provide a solution to whatever I am facing. I recently had a very profound revelation regarding this issue with which many of us struggle. I was listening to a message and the speaker said, “God didn’t call me to understand; He called me to believe.” That statement literally stopped me in my tracks because God doesn’t continually tell us to “understand.” He continually tells us to believe and trust Him. As I stood there considering this statement, I suddenly realized the reason I have to always know the whys or wear myself down analyzing and assessing every situation in my life. It’s because I actually don’t believe God most of the time. Every person of faith would always answer “yes” if asked, “Do you believe God?” But do we really? Do I believe God has a plan for each of us – or for me specifically? Yes, I do. Then why do I waste so much time stressed out over figuring out solutions to every problem that comes up? Because no matter what I SAY, my actions show that I think God is not capable of providing a solution or taking care of me. My mindset, like many of yours, is that God gave me a brain and He expects me to use it. Yes, that’s true, but I am not to use it to the exclusion of trusting Him. I am not supposed to come up with plan A-Z to make sure I have everything covered no matter what happens. Quite frankly, that’s not my job. My job is to ask God for clarity on where He is leading and then trust Him, even if I don’t understand how it is all going to work out. That is what faith is – the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Look, I’m not advocating taking leave of your senses and just sitting down in the yard and saying, “I’m not going to do anything because God promised to take care of me.” He expects us to work, but He also expects us to trust Him for the results and not ourselves. We often hear the admonition that we need to “save for a rainy day.” Have you ever asked someone for the definition of a “rainy day?” Better yet, have you ever asked yourself that question? The answers vary but here are the most common:
- The day something goes wrong like my car breaks down.
- The day I get sick and have to pay medical bills.
- The day I lose my job.
- The day I retire and want to be able to still live comfortably.
So we do what we can to put ourselves in a position where we feel safe from trouble that might arise. We work long hours for employers who don’t care about us and sacrifice precious time with our family and friends in order to put ourselves in a better financial situation. We do the same thing when it comes to building up a “savings account” emotionally with people, so that if something goes wrong in our relationship, we have something to fall back on – all the times we helped or were good (in our definition) to that person or group of people. We try to save up all kinds of grace in every area of our lives so that we are prepared for any negative situations in the future. We think, reason and plan so that one day we can relax. But that leaves one huge, missing piece of the equation: Believing God.
So what is the true definition of a rainy day? If we are really honest, it is the day God doesn’t bless us anymore. The truth is if God stops blessing me, there’s nothing I can do to store up enough (financially or otherwise)! Ouch, that hurts! Saving, being smart in your decisions – whether financial or otherwise – is a Godly trait. He didn’t call us to be stupid or NOT think things through. As a matter of fact, His word tells us often to “consider” things and to count the cost. We don’t ever want to appear stupid, but faith and belief often appear stupid to those around us – even other people of faith – because God’s ways are not our ways. He doesn’t do things like we would do, but the results are far better when we follow Him even when we don’t have all the information yet or understand the reasons why He is leading us in a certain direction. We are to use the gifts He has given us, including our intelligence, but not as a replacement for trusting Him to do exactly what He has promised to do. When we take it upon ourselves and believe our well-being in any situation is dependent on us figuring out the best solution, our plans will most often fail. It is burden God did not call me to bear. It is a job He did not call me to do. I’ll say it again, “God did not call me to understand; He called me to BELIEVE!” Belief means trusting. It means taking God at His word and then acting accordingly. See, we miss that last part. We might reflect that outwardly, but in our hearts, we do not act accordingly. I should speak for myself. If I did, I would not find myself saddled with weights that seem too great to bear. I wouldn’t be angry when others don’t “get what they deserve.” I wouldn’t be exhausted from the mental energy spent on constantly trying to solve problems. Instead I would have joy and peace, no matter the circumstances. I would actually BELIEVE Matthew chapter 6 and my yoke would actually be easy and my burden light! (Matt 11:30).
I needed the revelation of that one sentence I heard this week. I needed to be reminded that my unending struggle for gathering all the information and then leaning on MY own understanding for a solution needs to stop. There is a better way – a perfect way. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” (Prov 3:5-6). The most profound word in those two verses is the word “all.” I need to do it in ALL things, with ALL my heart because He has promised, without condition, to take care of me when I do. I need to let go of the overwhelming need to have every contingency plan possible. There is something truly liberating in the realization that the stress in my life does not come from the situations that arise, but in the way in which I react to them. It is freeing and empowering to finally, after all these years, realize WHY I always have to know why. It’s because somewhere in my mind, I think I can figure out a plan that will work better and makes more sense than the One who knows everything, sees everything and has the power to DO anything, except override my free will. If I would just stop thinking for a while and ask God for clarity, I will have it. The scary thing is the clarity and direction I receive may not make sense based on what I see in front of me. My intellect will scream it is stupid and can’t work. Instead, my intellect and reason should be screaming that God has promised and He cannot lie! Verse after verse in the Bible reflects that truth, and my God-given ability to think would be better utilized to understand His word and exactly what He has promised, then act accordingly by simply trusting Him and following where He leads.
God sometimes leads exactly where our own reasoning would take us, but sometimes He leads completely contrary to it. As a result, we are often left in a gray area where we are unsure if we are interpreting His leading correctly. Is this really the way God is leading me to go, act, or respond, or am I clouding His direction with my own desires and intelligence? Our reasoning will often interfere with the clarity God is providing and cloud our vision. That is precisely why we are told that “we walk by faith and not by sight.” God honors the motives of our hearts. If I have talked with Him and reach a decision based truly on what I believe He is leading me to do, I will be blessed, even if I misunderstood. He will simply pick me back up, dust me off, and point me in the right direction again…over and over. Why? Because He loves me and has promised to give me wisdom if I will just ask for it.
James 1:5-7 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (NIV) The other side of that equation is that if we will simply ask in faith, and not doubt, God will provide the direction through every situation in our lives. We can let Him do all the heavy lifting and sit back and relax. We can do what He asks us to do and not worry about the rest because He will provide every solution we need. It may not be the solution we wanted, but it will always be the one that is best. Remember, He did not call us to understand; He called us to believe!