Here I sit in variance – staring at the computer – arguing with myself as to how many words I should include in this blog. There is, as you can imagine, so much that one could say on this particular subject. However, Katie, the young lady who is schooling me in writing blogs says, “Glenn, try and limited your blogs to no more than 600 words.” Something I’ve yet to accomplish, however I’m working on it.
Let me take it one step further – adding insult to injury – regardless of how many words there are in this blog not everyone will be able to accept what I’m about to say as within our comfortable society prosperity is often overrated while problems are frequently underrated. But the truth is irrefutable, problems are here to stay, and if your dreams of the good life are in anyway dependent upon a problem free environment, well let’s just say, “You’re in big trouble.” In fact, if such is the case, you need to go back and re-read the fair-tales of old. The nemesis is alive and active throughout the kingdom and problems have kingdom purpose.
My point is simple.
We can’t run away from our problems the world simply isn’t big enough. In fact Jesus said, "In this world you will have problems." However, just because problems are here to stay doesn’t mean we need to succumb to their unyielding ways. And “Yes,” as the Apostle Paul proclaims, it is possible to live a contented life in a world divinely twisted with problems.
The bottom line is this: without problems we’re not going anywhere. Life under the sun is dependent upon problems as problems are the motivation behind the greatness of our character. Think about it this way, problems do not despair because of our circumstances but rather our circumstances despair because we lack understanding concerning the value of our problems.
In other words, we need to change our way of thinking. Problems are a necessary tool in the hands of the Almighty. Accept the truth – problems are here to stay – take advantage of them. Consider them your friend. Other than the certainty that comes as the result of understanding our problems there is simply no other path leading to the door of a maturing joyful life. James the half-brother of Jesus put it this way, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” 1: 2-4.
From the Scripture
Adding to this treasury of biblical understanding concerning our problems Peter gives us yet another perspective on the value of trials. “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” I Peter 1:5-7.
Or, expanding on our concept of trials even further. We could view them as did the Apostle Paul. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” Romans 8:18.
Whichever one of the these you elect to focus on, James’ concept of trials and maturity, Peters’ concept of trials and refining fires, or Pauls’ concept of lasting values we simply must change our perspective concerning God and trials. Trials are designed with purpose. Envision with me the enslaved Ebenezer Scrooge sitting behind his accounting desk seeking an explanation for every penny spent.
Making it work
Now, allowing for the image that James presents, “Consider it all joy…” or as the King James translates it, “Count it all joy…” (Emphasis on the word “count”) envision with me the perplexed, yet engaged disciple sitting behind his desk, bible in one hand journal in the other, seeking an explanation concerning the merits of his problems. In other words, as the enslaved Ebenezer Scrooge squeezed value, (temporal value) from every cent spent so the maturing disciple, looking for heavenly treasures, (eternal value) intentionally and with purpose, examines every problem God sends his way.
Stop scratching your head! You know as well as I do that these assessments usually take place (mostly for the purpose of sustaining our complaints) without rational thought, so why not do it intentionally and with wisdom. Why not explore the trial for the sole purpose of mining the gold that leads to character change. Consider this –the association between character and choice in the mind of James, Peter and Paul is anything but academic. It is life. It’s not about performing; it’s not speculative, nor is it theoretical. It is by its very nature a supernatural quality outlining one’s personality. Therefore, a truly wise individual, making the best use of understanding, knowledge and experience, will, with composure, examine the problems of life, and make the necessary changes.
If we want to inspire character maturity there is only one way to do it. Spiritual maturity is dependent upon the proper interpretation of our problems. Ultimately our character, working in cooperation with God, is the combined result of the changes we choose or choose not to make as a result of examining our circumstances, identifying our problems and applying Godly solutions. There simply is no other way to a joyful meaningful life.
Till we can sit down together I remain faithfully yours,
Glenn T. Horne
(Adapted from In Search of Wisdom; Entry Eight, Character, Choice, Change pg121)