As we have “studied God”, and as we have sought to discover what He is like we have learned that He is (among many other qualities) sovereign, wise, holy, faithful and good. And as we have also sought to apply and relate these truths to our lives and service we have come to two important biblical conclusions:
- God wants us to worship Him on the basis of these truths.
- God wants us to get to know Him on the basis of these truths. But there is a third vitally important application which we need to make, and a vital biblical lesson we need to learn which will help us in our lives and in our ministries.
Do you have any problems in your life or in your service?
Most (if not all) of us would answer “Yes”. We all have problems of some kind, and some of them can be very serious. Problems abound; they are a reality even in the lives and ministries of the most spiritual and devout. The list is endless:-
- personal problems
- work problems
- financial problems
- family problems
- people problems
- health problems
- problems with ourselves
- with relationships
- with circumstances
- with discouragement and disappointment
- and with the future.
How can you and I handle problems such as these?
Is there an answer? I believe there is. But it must be God’s answer and not man’s answer. We talk to people about our problems, and listen to their suggestions; we read books or listen to preachers dealing with problems like these; we try different plans; and we pray, of course, and ask God to take the problem away. But we must often confess that after trying many of these, and other, “solutions,” the problem is still there and we feel helpless to deal with it. And sometimes, as a result, we worry about the problem and make ourselves sick, or we become bitter and rebellious, or we blame other people for causing it, or, if it is a ministry problem, we resign and run away from it.
What then is God’s answer to our problems?
Before finding that answer, we need to realise that we all have a problem which was not in any of the above lists, and it is that problem which makes it difficult for us to solve the other problems. Our main problem is that we are so self-centred and egotistical. We continually look at ourselves, our problems, our difficulties, our work, our future and our health. Our focus is upon ourselves and our needs. ; and this is often true even when we pray. The strange thing is that the more we focus upon ourselves and our problems, the greater those problems seem to become and the more difficult it is to find a solution for them. Why? Because our thoughts and attention are focussed in the wrong direction. They are focussed upon ourselves rather than God. We need to learn how to focus upon God and this is the third application of our study of God and His attributes.
When you have a problem focus upon God and not on yourself or your problem.
My basic problem is that I focus so often upon myself and my problems. God wants me to reverse all of that. He wants me to change my philosophy and my way of thinking. He wants me in every situation, and especially when faced with a problem, to focus on Him as my first reaction and not as a final resort when all else fails, The more I centre and focus my thoughts upon God and the truths I have learned about Him, the less my problems become or I become more able to handle them. This change of thinking will need much time, patience and effort. It does not happen overnight.
Make a start today!
You have studied and come to understand some of the key attributes of God; you have been worshipping Him on the basis of the truths you have learned about Him and you are slowly coming to know Him better and love Him more. And then comes a major problem. What should you do? Don’t start to worry yourself sick; don’t try to blame someone; don’t despair. Focus your thoughts immediately upon God and meditate on what you have learned about Him. Is He sovereign? He has allowed it to happen. Is He wise? He knows what He is doing (although you don’t). Is He your Father? He cares for you and only wants the best for you. Is He omnipotent? He can solve your problem.
- Think about Him (Matthew 6:25-34)
- Talk to Him (Phil 4:6,7) and
- Throw it (hand it over) upon Him (1 Peter 5:7)
He will do one of two things:
- Either He will remove the problem.
- Or, more likely, He will give you the strength to deal with the problem.
Follow in the footsteps of Joseph who, when faced with the problems his brothers caused, focussed upon God and was able to say, in Egypt, that “it was God Who sent me here” (Gen 45:7). He understood all the problems he had faced were under God’s sovereign and wise control and that they were part of His plan for his life; and, as a result, He had peace.
Lesson 9 – Your first step in a problem is to focus your eyes on God and not on the problem.