Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Taking Pleasure In Problems

Photo by bunchofpants
Roll Around In Your Mess

Okay, I know this sounds gross, but stay with me. There's a point here. Have you ever seen a dog go number two and then flip over on his back and roll around in his own mess? Or, have you ever been on a farm and seen pigs that are wallowing around in filthy mud? Why do these animals do that? Don't they realize how gross and disgusting that is? While we may never know the true answer to why animals do strange things like this, they obviously get some kind of weird animal pleasure from their experience.

The Apostle Paul was a Christian who understood problems while living out the life that God had called him to live. He had been beaten on several occasions, stoned, shipwrecked, imprisoned, tired, hungry, and lacking clothing (2 Corinthians 11:22-27). If living the victorious Christian life was all about the "health and wealth," prosperity gospel, then the Apostle Paul was a complete and miserable failure! In fact, dare I say that the prosperity gospel preachers of today would say that Paul wasn't even a true believer. I mean, how could he be when he wasn't experiencing the hand of God's blessing on his life?

Paul had a completely different view of all of these problems in his life. He actually took pleasure in his problems. I think he even liked to "roll around" in his messy situation.

Take A Different Viewpoint

Check out what Paul wrote about regarding the difficulties he experienced in living out his journey of faith in Christ in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (MSG):
Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, 
My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness. 
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
As we can see from this passage, Paul first looked at his problems as a demonic attack. He prayed to the Lord on three separate occasions to take away a physical handicap. And when the Lord answered his request with a firm "No," Paul started to get an understanding of why he had problems. First, his physical handicap was given to him so that he would not become prideful. There were so many ways that Paul could have taken pride and gotten a swelled head for his own calling as an apostle. His handicap, though, put him in his place. It kept him in touch with his own limitations.

Second, his handicap pushed him to his knees. You know, severe problems have a way of causing us to fall down before the Lord in prayer like nothing else. If you want to recalibrate your worship with Almighty God, then all you need to do is go through a major life problem that you can't fix. God and prayer become our only option.

Third, the Lord revealed to Paul that His grace was enough for Paul's handicap. God's amazing strength was revealed in Paul's weakness. Through all of his problems, Paul realized that the weaker he got, God actually made him stronger.

Once Paul was able to get to the place of understanding these three important distinctions, he was able to get to the place of taking his problems in stride. He could actually be happy with his difficulties. He reveled in his problems. He rolled around in his mess.

So, What's Your Problem?

So, Christian, what are you facing in this life right now that has completely humbled you? What difficulty has driven you to your knees in prayer, asking God to provide a solution to your unique situation? Have you even gotten to this position, or are you still mad at God for allowing this stuff to happen in your life in the first place?

Honestly, I can't say that God is going to answer your request in the way that you may think is best. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. He may have a totally different plan for your life that doesn't "fix" your problem, just like the Apostle Paul.

So, what in the heck do we do if that is God's answer to our problem? All I can say is take the same approach as Paul. Enjoy the journey. Roll around in your stinkin' mess. Allow God's grace to grow in your life. When we're weak, God becomes even stronger in our lives.

This is an awesome thing, so don't fight it.

Also, check out these related posts:

No comments:

Post a Comment