Life is full of problems. It seems for every one issue that gets resolved there are two more frustrating dilemmas that pop up.
The most common perspective on problems is seeing them as the enemy. They’re distractions. Unnecessary delays. Avoidable issues that only make life more complicated.
There’s a different perspective on problems, however, that I’ve been trying to adopt more recently. This perspective sees problems as opportunities. They’re puzzles to solve. Challenges to overcome so things can be better. Chances to be part of the solution in meaningful ways that bless others.
That’s how the Bible says God often approaches problems. The first problem in human history was that man was alone. So God fixed it. He made woman. (That was always his plan anyway.) Then the real problem set in when people disobeyed God. It brought death, destruction, selfishness, and real evil into this world. And how did God respond? He saw it as an opportunity to make things right again. He crafted a solution that would bless others. Even if it meant his heart would break and his Son would die on a cross, it would undo the destruction of death and disobedience. Now we can live with God forever. The problem was really bad, but God saw it as an opportunity to accomplish something tremendously good.
That’s how God, in the Bible, told his people to approach problems too. When the Israelites were relocated as refugees, he told them to pray for their new country, build houses, prosper, and be a blessing for their new land. See the problem as an opportunity for good. When Jesus’ first followers were persecuted and under the threat of death, he sent them out to all corners of the world to spread the good news of full forgiveness to new people in new lands. See the trial as an opening for benefiting others. When societies were crumbling in immorality and poverty, he told his people to share with the poor and be a light in the dark places. See the issue as a chance to help others in meaningful ways.
It wasn’t easy for them. Not at all! Yet even though their hearts would break in the process, God sent his people into really bad situations so they could be part of the solution and accomplish something tremendously good.
That’s how the Bible says God wants us to approach problems today too. America is becoming increasingly polarized with political and social anger on all sides. God sends his people from different political leanings in different parts of the country to hold up a message that transcends politics—a message of hope in Jesus who never disappoints and makes everything right when hope in human leaders continues to disappoint. See the problem as an opportunity for good.
There are homes in our communities that are trapped in dark places of abuse, substance dependency, or poverty. God calls his people the light of the world, and he places on their hearts the well-being of those in the darkness so that his people reach out in the messy situations. So the underserved are genuinely loved. See the trial as an opening for benefiting others.
People are as connected as ever online, but they have fewer friends and, in many cases, no real community for encouragement and support. God gathers his people into a community of flawed individuals who know how beautiful it is to have a flawless Savior. He tells them to open their doors and their hearts to be the kind of encouragement and support the people in our communities are starving for. See the issue as a chance to help others in meaningful ways. God wants his people to see situations that are really bad and think about being part of the solution, even if our hearts are breaking in the process, to accomplish something tremendously good.
Changing your perspective on problems doesn’t minimize their seriousness or magically make them go away. The problems are still very real. But seeing problems as more than issues—seeing them also as opportunities to serve and be part of the solution—brings something beautiful to an otherwise ugly situation.
Bringing beauty to the ugliness. It’s what God does. It’s what he does through his people.
If you’re one of his people, be part of the solution. If you’re not one of God’s people, you can be. God wants you to be. When you’re part of his family, it doesn’t mean the problems go away, but it does mean you’re part of something beautiful.