All of us have problems. Everybody’s got issues. They are a fact of life. Some issues are more difficult than others, but each of us has things in our lives that we have to overcome.
While difficulties can be the cause of much frustration, have you ever considered thanking God for your problems? Sounds crazy, right? Financial problems, legal situations that seem impossible, strained relationships – how can we possibly be thankful for that?
As odd as it may seem, we can and should be thankful for our struggles. Here’s why:
The Positive Outlook on Problems
1. Our problems teach us patience.
How many times have you said, “Lord, give me patience.”? Ever notice how God displays his impeccable timing and sense of humor and answers this prayer immediately?
Our problems are the training ground for us to grow in endurance. You asked Him for patience, and your difficulty will be a tool that He uses to work patience in you. James 1:3 reminds us that the trying of our faith produces steadfastness. By definition, the word trying means extremely annoying or difficult; it also means straining one’s goodwill to the limit. When we have reached our edge, God’s strength kicks in and helps us to go through whatever issue we may be facing.
2. Our problems bring us closer to God.
Life issues, depending on their severity, can literally bring us to our knees. A serious medical diagnosis, a midnight phone call with terrible news, or a sudden tragedy can shake us to the core. Our issues move us from a place of pride and self-sufficiency to a place of humility. They reveal our need for God. Our problems show us our limitations as human beings.
We can do nothing without God, and despite the pain, we should thank God for anything that causes us to get close to Him. James 4:8 reassures us that if we draw close to God, He would draw close to us. In Jeremiah 29:13, God promises that if we search for Him, we will find Him.
3. Our problems show us our true selves.
When things are going well in our lives, we tend to be happy and content. However, our true colors show when we are faced with challenges.
When difficulties happen, are we thankful and trusting God, or are we full of doubt, fear of the future, and complaints? It’s easy to be cheerful, upbeat, and full of hope when things are operating smoothly. But, where is our faith and confidence in God when we meet opposition? Our reaction to our obstacles can clearly show us exactly where we are in our walk with Christ. Proverbs 24:10
4. Our problems prepare us to be used by God.
Personal victories over our difficult situations can provide the basis for our encouragement of others. Whether you know it or not, your testimony of victory qualifies you to be used by God.
Coming through a difficult time can give you a foundation for ministry to other people. Because you made it through, others can be encouraged in their situation as well. Revelation 12:11 reminds us we overcome the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony. Our personal journey to victory provides us the authority to speak to an issue in faith on behalf of our brother or sister. We can apply our confidence in God to bring them out just as He delivered us.
5. Our problems work for us.
We should thank God for our troubles because they work for us. We have all read the scripture in Romans 8:28, but how many times have you recognized that your problem was actually working for you?
2 Corinthians 4:17(a) reminds us that our difficult situations are temporary. Have you ever had a temp work in your office? A temp is an interim employee, only working for a short, pre-determined time on a specific work assignment. Once the assignment is complete, the temp employee’s job is done.
Change your perspective and view your problem as your personal temp employee working for your benefit. Like a temp works for a company, it is in the same way that your temporary situation works for you! You should thank God for your problems because, although they are only in your life for an abbreviated time, their benefit to you is eternal! 2 Corinthians 4:17 (b)
So, what’s the play call?
The word of God never promises that we won’t have difficulties. In fact, in John 16:33 Jesus tells us that problems are a fact of life. Even with this reality, know that God is with you. The next time you face a problem, instead of rolling your eyes and sighing ‘why me’, try gratitude as your first response.
Though you might not see it right now, what you’re going through is nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed in you (Romans 8:18)! Be encouraged, Team!