Turning Problems Into Progress

By Dr. H.D. McCarty

“Though a mountain of opposition is before you…and your might and power are insufficient…My kind of man will learn to conquer by My Spirit…his problems will be reduced to level ground…he will know My
joy of blessing in his heart.” Zechariah 4:6-7

Problems! Problems! Problems! We have problems! Easy problems and painful problems. Quick problems and lingering problems. Solvable problems and unsolvable problems. They are inevitable and unrelenting.

Dr. F. Scott Peck, psychiatrist and author, has given me a tremendous insight when it comes to problems. He says a person’s worth is primarily dictated by how many problems he can solve. In fact, the most effective and helpful person you can associate with is one who solves problems quickly. This observation has triggered some fresh liberty in my daily living.

An excellent definition of success is knowing how to solve most, if not all, of your problems. Sometimes solving a problem means coming to grips with the fact that this problem can’t be solved, and you can only
adjust to it for some greater purpose. Unless you can adjust to unsolvable problems in such a way that a greater purpose will be served than simply the solving of your problem, your life is doomed to be one of frustration and never-ending disappointment.

After making these statements in a sermon one Sunday I ran into a member of the church the next day while eating lunch. When I asked him how he was doing, he responded with a smile, “I am trying to act on
your sermon and cram as many problems into my life as I can!”

Another very successful man in our church involved in several businesses suffered a severe financial loss with the destruction of one of his warehouses. The fire was caused by some negligent workmen using
some of his equipment on off-duty hours. The building was only half-covered by insurance. After offering my condolences for his most unfortunate problem, he responded with a phrase that I shall never forget. “Thanks, Pastor, but I’ve learned that problems aren’t so bad if you know how to hand them.” Exactly!

We need to understand that there are three types of problems that confront us: those we can solve immediately… those we must endure for a season… and those we must bear for a lifetime. It’s the
problems we eventually discover we have to bear for a lifetime that can give us the greatest pain. (The loss of a mate, a rebellious child, an incurable health problem, the implications of a divorce, moral failure, etc.)

From God’s point of view, however, the more problems He allows us to have and solve, the more opportunities we have to bring greater glory to His Name. In the process of solving spiritual problems and striking greater blows for the kingdom, we find our own character growing in strength and integrity. In Romans 5:1-5 we are amazed to find the apostle Paul as excited about his problems as he is the glory of God! In essence the great Apostle says that problems rightly embraced (as obedience to God) and clearly understood (as a purpose from God) cannot help but do us good.

My dictionary defines a problem as “a difficult question, a doubt or difficulty, or something to be worked out.” Our 1993-1994 football quarterback at the University of Arkansas, Barry Lunney, defined a
problem during his testimony as “an urgent pressure that cannot be ignored.”

Amazingly, the work “problem” does not even appear in the King James Bible. The best word in Greek for “problem” would be the one that indicates pressure, tension, or to be squeezed between two forces. I
know we’ve all felt it. The oldest book in the Bible is Job. This wise brother, who suffered more than any man who ever lived other than Jesus, wisely observed that “as sparks fly up, so man is bound to trouble.” (Job 5:7) There is simply no way to escape problems in a world of fallen people who selfishly and ignorantly believe and chase lies.

The true leader who displays his power over problems is a rare individual. I hope as you and I mature, most folks can describe the way we handle our problems as “calmness under pressure.”

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, was returning home from a preaching engagement one time when friends rushed out and told him that his house had just burned down. His response? “Praise God! One less problem to worry about.” His greater view of God made the human problems of earth smaller.

Captain Gilmore, commander of the American submarine, Growler, during World War II, had a problem. His sub was surfaced, and he was on the bridge several wounded. A Japanese destroyer was bearing down on his sub in order to ram and sink her! Without any hesitation he gave the order to his executive officer to “Take her down!” He solved the problem of saving his men and ship by an order that meant his own
immediate death. He solved the problem by paying the ultimate price. Is it any wonder that our country posthumously awarded him the Congressional Medal of Honor? Most of us aren’t willing to go that  far. We live with the uneasy tension of knowing we are not willing to do what’s necessary to conquer our real problems!

We must come to understand that our worst problems are our greatest opportunities to magnify the deeper meaning of life and to honor the name of Christ. Even the Lord Jesus had His problems! In John 12:23ff
He speaks of the hour of His death having come upon Him. He says His soul is greatly troubled. He states, “Unless a seed is buried, it abideth alone but if it is buried, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Problem solving for Jesus meant increased obedience to the purpose of God… regardless of the cost. Most of us fail to live above our problems because we haven’t been captured by the purposes of God; hence, loving Him isn’t worth our ultimate obedience.

We often demonstrate a shortage of Godly wisdom. Even when we “plant” our problems as God has told us to do we dig them up at the first sign of increased pain! We must bury our problems in the soil of God’s
promise and wait for Him to take care of them. We must let the pressure of truth and obedience work on our problems and convert them into spiritual growth just as the pressure and nutrients of the soil turn the seed into its full potential. My oldest granddaughter, Ashley, always likes me to tell her bedtime stories that have “a horrible terrible, no good, very bad problem” in them! Little does she realize how easy it is to solve problems in the bedtime story versus solving them in real life.

Earl Nightingale, the great motivator, tells the story of a vendor at the Chicago World’s Fair who couldn’t get paper cups from his supplier to sell his ice cream. So he dreamed up the idea of using waffle mix.
His wife ironed the waffle mix into conical shapes and let them dry. Now the container which held the ice cream was also edible! This invention made this vendor a millionaire. He called it an ice cream cone. His problem..or rather, his response to his problem, was what propelled him to his success!

Nothing in this life is problem free! We must learn how to vanquish our problems or they will make us victims. It’s determining how to conquer them that puts the “kick” of significance and satisfaction into
life. The great tragedy is that some people can live 60 or 70 years and solve thousands of temporary and insignificant problems but it never really does them any ultimate good. It’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking ocean liner. Christians who solve the real spiritual problems make progress toward truth with every God-allowed problem the solve.

The reason most men solve problems is to get their problems out of the way. The mature man in Christ solves problems to get more of Christ into his life!

“In the world you will have problems…but be of good cheer..I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

Written by Dr. H.D. McCarty. This article was found in the Mandate For Men, July 1994, Pages 1-3.

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