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HOW TO LET GOD SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS
12 Keys to a Divine Solution
By Charles F. Stanley Thomas Nelson
Copyright © 2008 Great Commission Media
All right reserved.
No Problem Too Great
Nothing was gentle or kind about Hurricane Katrina. What began as a small tropical storm on August 24, 2005, quickly became a category one hurricane as it passed just north of Key West, Florida. At the time, no one would have thought that in less than four days, this storm would turn into a raging category five hurricane with wind speeds surpassing 170 mph, but this is exactly what it did.
After frightening residents of Key West and chasing tourists away from the southernmost point of the United States, the storm turned northward and headed out into the Gulf of Mexico where warmer-than-normal water temperatures fueled its growing fury. Two days later, weather forecasters were stunned by the satellite images they were receiving detailing the storm's track. At one point the hurricane, along with its outer rain bands, completely filled the Gulf of Mexico. Even more frightening was the fact that the hurricane had trained its eye on the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and the western third of Alabama.
Residents began frantically packing cars and seeking any route of escape. Highways quickly became slow-moving parking lots as people fled from the inevitable.Countless others, however, believed they could outlast the storm on their own. Some said they had no way to leave the area. They boarded up their houses or sought refuge in shelters, but to little avail. As Katrina approached land, local government officials realized this storm would be physically, emotionally, and mentally devastating to everyone in its path. Destruction would be mammoth, and recovery would not be easy or quick.
Just as it made landfall, Hurricane Katrina weakened to a category four. But its sustained winds hovered at 145 mph, and Americans witnessed one of the most deadly storms in history plow ashore. Close to 1,300 people died in storm-related deaths, and damage estimates are reported to be more than $200 billion. More than a million people were displaced from their homes. Countless individuals were separated from loved ones. At the time, the one question on everyone's mind seemed to be: How could this have happened?
Winds of Adversity
The winds of adversity blow strong. They also blow in every direction. They do not discriminate between rich or poor, weak or strong. Though many people try desperately to avoid difficulty and hardship, sooner or later adversity will strike our lives. This is because no one is exempt from sorrow, heartache, disappointment, and even sudden tragedy. When the storm does hit, it can cause a multitude of problems: fear, anxiety, and anger. It can tempt us to doubt God's goodness and to feel as though the very foundation of our lives will crumble beneath us.
In the aftermath of a storm-whether emotional or physical-we may be tempted to wonder if we will ever be able to put the pieces of our lives back together. After all, how do we recover from the heartfelt loss of our homes, the death of a friend or a spouse, or the sharp and painful feelings that come as a result of divorce? How can we go on after hearing the news that we have been let go from a job we loved? Will we ever get past the stinging reality of finding out that the husband or wife who once vowed to love until "death do us part" loves someone else? Is there any cure for the loneliness, isolation, and depression we are feeling? Will life ever return to a normal pace after suffering a long and serious illness? The answer to these questions is found through faith in God. In the aftermath of any storm, He is the only One we can turn to for encouragement.
Many times, people search through the debris of their lives looking for signs of hope and anything still connected to the life they once knew. Even if everything we regarded as familiar changes, God remains the same (Heb. 13:8). He is our eternal anchor in stormy and difficult times (Heb. 6:19). And He has promised never to forsake those who love Him (Deut. 31:6, 8; Heb. 13:5).
You may be thinking, My life has been shattered by tragedy, and I just don't believe there is any hope available for me. In fact, I got up this morning, went to my office, and a few minutes into my day, my manager told me the company no longer needed me. I have been fired, and now I feel numb and wonder what I will do to take care of my family's needs. God is never surprised by the difficulties you face. He knows all about the circumstances of your life before they unfold. Some come as a result of living in a fallen world. Others are the result of sin, but even when you have turned away from Him, there is hope.
There are also seasons to life-times when the winds of adversity hit without warning and with the force of a category five hurricane. And if a person lives long enough, he or she will experience some type of adversity. Being prepared for seasons of difficulty gives you the motivation you need to stay the course when trouble comes. You also can learn how to examine a problem rationally and to turn it over to the Lord rather than succumb to feelings of depression, guilt, or shame.
More than likely, you know what it feels like to stare sorrow and disappointment in the face. For the person who has picked up this book with the hope of finding an answer to the heaviness he or she is feeling, there is great news: God has given us His promise of restoration. He tells us in Joel 2:25, "I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust." In this passage, the Lord was speaking of the nation of Israel. However, there is an eternal principle involved that we can apply to our lives. When you trust God with your circumstances, He not only will help you solve whatever problem you are facing, but He will restore all that has been lost in the process. The restoration may come in a different way. Nevertheless, it will come, and you will be able to sense God's goodness in the process.
He knows when we face difficulties that are beyond our ability to handle, and He promises hope and restoration when our faith is in Him alone. In Deuteronomy 30:1-3, He says, "So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind ... and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul ... then the LORD your God will restore you." The Lord is the One who provides the strength and courage we need to go forward by faith, trusting Him with our future even when the sun does not appear for many days and months. He is not the author of evil, nor did His original design include devastation and heartache. However, He uses both of these for His purpose and glory, and for our blessing. And it is in times of extreme difficulty that He develops our character and strengthens us spiritually, while helping us to grow deeper in our faith in Him.
Adversity comes as a result of two different aspects. It often strikes as a result of living in a fallen environment. While God originally created this world to be perfect, Adam and Eve sinned, and we are now living with the consequences of their disobedience. We also experience adversity when we fail to obey God. All sin has consequences-some much more serious than others. While the consequences of sin are very serious, God never stops loving us, and when we acknowledge our need of Him and that we have made a wrong turn, He is quick to restore our fellowship with Him.
God Specializes in Hope
You may think that in your disobedience, you have gone too far. Nothing is beyond His reach-no sin is too great for Him to handle. He is God, and He is sovereign. He loves you with an infinite love, and there may be times when He will allow adversity to strike so that you will turn back to Him. In their agony, Adam and Eve cried out, and the Lord moved on their behalf. Though He cast them out of the garden of Eden, He made garments for them to wear (Gen. 3:21). He also set into motion His plan of redemption for you and me, which included the coming of His Son, the Savior of the world. The Bible tells us, "For God so loved the world [you], that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).
God is greater than any form of evil. He is alive and present with us through the power of His Holy Spirit in the lives of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. This means that not only do we have a sure hope for what seems to be the most hopeless of circumstances, but we also have a loving Savior who comforts us in our times of trial and heartache (2 Cor. 1:3-4). He has a plan for your life, even if it has been damaged and torn apart by the winds of adversity (Jer. 29:11). You may think that there is no way He could ever love you, but He does. He created you in love for the purpose of knowing and loving you. Catastrophic events that involve innocent people are not the result of anything we have done wrong. God is not a stern judge who is sitting up in heaven waiting for the right moment to crush us for our actions.
He is a God of love, but when we make unwise decisions, He allows us to face the consequences of these wrong choices. Adam disobeyed God and therefore suffered for failing to do what God had commanded him to do. When we violate a principle of God, we can expect to suffer some type of adversity. Many times, we are quick to recognize what we have done and take the right steps to correct the situation. Other times, we may not be as quick to respond correctly, and the adversity intensifies until we respond to God's correction.
There are consequences to sin-actions we are sure will not hurt anyone. Words thoughtlessly spoken bring deep hurt to a person's life and can have a lasting impact. We may casually dismiss our actions as being said or done in fun, but God thinks differently and will prick our consciences until we acknowledge that what we have done is wrong. A few years ago, I sat in my office listening to a young man who had come by the church to drop off a few things and asked to see me. After a few minutes of light conversation, I became aware that storm clouds were not only building in this man's life, but they were about to break open.
When we think about stormy situations, we usually believe these include an unexpected sickness, an unforeseen financial distress, or an unpreventable accident. This is true, but many of the storms we face also come as the result of personal sin-sin that could have been prevented by just saying no to a single thought of temptation. This was the case in this man's life, and he had a lot of work to do before he could experience the unconditional trust of his family again. However, he was able to make it because he sought forgiveness and refuge in Christ. With God's help, he was able to turn away from the sin that almost destroyed his family.
What type of storm are you facing today? Do you realize that even if it has appeared as a result of something you have done, God is in it with you? You are never alone. He will not forsake you when you call to Him and admit that you failed to follow His principles and need His forgiveness and wisdom to right what has been done wrong. He is your unshakable refuge, and though you may have strayed, He will restore you when you turn your heart back to Him.
How do you handle adversity? What do you do when the walls of your life collapse and there seems to be no point of retreat for you? How do you go on to face the next day and the day after that? In the back of the lonely, dark cave of Adullam, we can imagine David's tears running heavy down his face. He had never been in a place like this one. Sure, he had been on the battlefield facing fierce soldiers of war, but he had never been here, and certainly never alone. Alone! That is the way he felt. Though four hundred men were with him, more than likely he felt alone, and the pain he experienced was horrifying (1 Sam. 22:1). How did this happen? Wasn't he the anointed king of Israel? Didn't he have a secure place to live, a home in Jerusalem, and friends who opened their lives to him? There was nothing in this place to welcome him except a handful of sandy soil and the constant dripping of seeping water emerging from the rocky walls that concealed him from his enemy, King Saul.
When David bowed for Samuel to anoint him king, he had no idea his life was headed for turmoil and trouble. In fact, more than likely, he imagined triumph and victory. Instead, he found himself writing these few words of a prayer and psalm to God: "Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge until destruction passes by. I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me" (Ps. 57:1-3).
No matter how painful your situation may be, God has a greater purpose in mind for the heartache that you are suffering. Over the weeks, months, and even years that followed, those few moments spent in a cave of discouragement were never forgotten by David. He had learned a simple principle-one that would rule his life: trust God with your circumstances, and leave all the consequences to Him. He was molding David's life for a greater challenge and a greater blessing. He had a plan in mind for the disappointments His servant faced, just as He does for us. Perhaps the winds of adversity are blowing hard against your life, and you cannot begin to think how you will make it through another day, let alone another week. You tell your friends that you feel numb and defeated. God, however, wants you to lift your head so you can see the many promises, opportunities, and blessings He has waiting for you.
The Wrong View
There is a popular religious view in our world today that is totally opposite of what the Bible teaches. It tells us that if we will trust God, believe in Him, and make sure our faith is focused in the right direction, we will never have to face adversity. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The fact is that during our lifetimes, each one of us will face many trials. Some will be simple to weather, while others will be much more difficult. Having the wrong view of adversity can lead to serious problems. This can cause us to doubt God when we need to buckle down and trust Him to an even greater degree. It also can tempt us to become cynical and bitter, especially when we adopt a "poor me" attitude.
When you face adversity, ask God to help you understand His will and purpose for the difficulty. He may not tell you all you want to know. But over time, you will find that He gives you exactly what you need at the right time. One of the surest ways to experience God's hope is to read His Word. God's unconditional love and restoration are woven throughout the Bible. It chronicles the amazing, unconditional love of a holy and righteous God who loves you with an everlasting love. Within its pages, you will discover that you are not alone. Each one of the saints of God faced times of tremendous trial and discouragement. They struggled with feelings of fear and thoughts of defeat. But they were relentless in their faith because they were convinced that the One who promised to deliver them from heartache and sorrow would do it, and He did. The awesome truth is that He is willing to do the same for you today.
Excerpted from HOW TO LET GOD SOLVE YOUR PROBLEMS by Charles F. Stanley Copyright © 2008 by Great Commission Media. Excerpted by permission.
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