I read the words over and over, certain I had misunderstood or that in my just awakened, pre-caffeinated state I had to be reading them incorrectly. But there was no mistake about it.
There they were. Right there in black and white. Words which sounded so incredibly strange to me and frankly words which I wasn’t particularly thrilled to be reading that morning.
“Make friends with the problems in your life. Though many things feel random and wrong, remember that I am sovereign over everything. I can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extent that you trust Me. Every problem can teach you something, transforming you little by little into the masterpiece I created you to be. The very same problem can become a stumbling block over which you fall, if you react with distrust and defiance. The choice is up to you, and you will have to choose many times each day whether to trust Me or defy Me.
The best way to befriend a problem is to thank Me for them. This simple act opens your mind to the possibility of benefits flowing from your difficulties. You can even give persistent problems nicknames, helping you to approach them with familiarity rather than dread. The next step is to introduce them to Me, enabling Me to embrace them in My loving presence. I will not necessarily remove your problems, but My wisdom is sufficient to bring good out of every one of them.” ~ Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
Yeah. No thanks.
Seriously, why would I make friends with my problems when I don’t even WANT them in my life?
That’s just crazy talk right there.
And on this particular morning, it was the last thing I wanted to do.
I wanted the problem I was facing to just go away. I wanted to channel my inner turtle and tuck my head into my shell and shut myself off from the world.
But, here it was before me. A choice.
I could either open the door to my problem and invite it inside, or I could leave it there standing on the doorstep.
Why would I want to make friends with my problems? What purpose does it serve?
Well, if I’m honest with myself and honest about my faith journey, I have to admit that it’s the problems which seem to snap me out of my sleepy state. They wake me up and force me to take a look at where I am in my relationship with my Savior.
I don’t know about you, but in the days that are all sunshine and lollipops I so easily slip into a place of complacency and of leaning on my own strength. I think to myself, “Look how awesome my life is! I got this! You and me God? We make such a great team!”
But, there isn’t a whole lot of growth taking place. Not much depth. Just a whole lot of self-centeredness.
You see, it’s in the stormy seasons of life, when the problems threaten to overwhelm me, that I find myself radically clinging to God. This is when leaning on Him becomes akin to breathing. And this is when I realize that I have to make the choice to become friends with my problems.
But what exactly does that involve?
Think about it this way, your closest relationships are with the people who know you inside and out and vice versa. You’ve taken the time to get to know them backwards and forwards. You’ve celebrated with them and you’ve cried with them. You know what hurts them and annoys them. You know their favorite kind of food and their most embarrassing moment. You pray for them and even when they might drive you crazy at times, you love them anyway.
That is how we become friends with our problems. We don’t just invite them in and leave them standing there in the hallway. No, we sit down with them. We get to know them and we allow them to reveal to us things about ourselves which we probably never realized. We allow them to force us into a place of prayer and petitioning. Of total reliance on God. We cry with them and we are frustrated by them and we take them with us to His throne of grace.
Do we have to do this. No.
We don’t have to invite them in. We could just slam the door in the face of our problems and leave them standing there on the front porch.
But, does that mean they go away? Not really.
Oh sure, they might seem to fade and become a distant memory. But they will still be there.
And in the meantime, we are missing out.
Because here is why we make friends with our problems.
We make friends with them so that…
When there is healing
When there is a new level reached in our faith
When there is restoration
When there is forgiveness
When there is grace given and received
When there is a greater understanding of who we are in Christ
When there is beauty that emerges from the ashes
When there are all of those things (and more!) we are able to give all the glory to God!
We can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is moving through lives and relationships. That He is able to do more than we can ask or imagine. That His spirit is active and alive.
If we never make friends with our problems and get to know them intimately, just think about how much we would miss out on!
Oh sure, we might be able to appreciate the problems being resolved, but unless we sit with our problems and get to know them, we run the risk of missing out on all of the really GOOD stuff. The hard, messy, beautiful stuff.
So, I’m learning to make friends with my problems. It’s hard and it’s painful and frankly I really don’t like when what this friendship leads to is the revealing of the ugly parts of my heart.
But, oh sweet friends, it’s sooooooooo worth it in the end!
So, today, I challenge you to join me in making friends with your problems.
Open the door to them and invite them into your life.
Take it from me, you want to hear what they have to say.