Will I sink or will I swim? In troubled times this can be our constant question. Self-preservation seems to dictate our options. It is easy to bring attention to what God is “not” doing rather than being still and see what God is doing”. Deliverance may look very different than what we expect.
When crossing a creek, a stepping stone shows us a way across. It holds our weight so that we can cross over. The weight is distributed so that we can achieve balance to cross over.
A millstone can accentuate the rate of falling or sinking. It compounds the weight that will intensify our fall. Often the weight of problems will try to sink us and make us overwhelmed. Perspective and how we think often determine which one we will have.
Challenges in our lives are designed to bring us across the seeming impossible impasses and bring us deeper and infuse wisdom on the inward parts.
When you hear the word “EASY” what comes to mind? No conflicts, things coming together naturally, simple solutions to complexities? An easier way can look different to each one of us. Often we may look to avoid conflict as much as possible so that we don’t “rock the boat” but in every sea there are waves.
Easy is not always better; it often means no price was paid, or there is no “skin” in the game. Relationships can be like a tug of war, each person struggling to be heard and known. The tendency is to attempt to do things our way or to make people like us so that we can understand them, but this often creates turbulence.
Here are some ways to maintain perspective when things are not easy:
- Set realistic expectations
- Continue working where you can.
- Remember the plan is always unfolding.
- It takes time for things to come to pass.
- Celebrate the small gains.
- Understand that tension makes room for growth.
- Without scars, there is no story.
- Breathe. You are on the road to promotion and growth
All of us love it when there is peace. Often we may try to avoid a touchy subject to preserve harmony, but avoidance is not an arena for growth.
Challenges and tensions are necessary to develop freshness and character. Charles Swindoll shares an illustration that proves this point.
In the northeastern United States, codfish are a big commercial business. There’s a market for eastern cod all over our country, especially in sections farthest removed from the northeast coastline. But the public demand posed a problem to the shippers. At first they froze the cod, then shipped them, but the freeze took away much of the flavor. So they experimented with shipping them alive, in tanks of seawater, but that proved even worse. Not only was it more expensive, the cod still lost its flavor, and in addition, became soft and mushy. The texture was seriously affected. Finally, they tried placing the codfish in the tank of water along with their natural enemy–the catfish. From the time the cod left the East Coast until it arrived at its destination, those ornery catfish chased the cod all over the tank. When the cod arrived at the market, they were as fresh as when they were first caught. There was no loss of flavor nor was the texture affected.
Tension gives us spiritual muscle, keeps us spiritually fit, and develops balanced healthy perspectives. Can you recognize some catfish swimming in your tank? At home? At work? They keep all the cod from getting soft, mushy, and tasteless.
Here are some important rules for engagement when working through problems:
- Identify the true problem. Ask questions.
- Recognize your spouse is NOT the problem
- Problem-solving is not always going to address the real need
- Being problem-centric magnifies the symptoms than exposing the roots.
- Analyze patterns of behavior and initiate life-giving solutions.
God will get you to the other side, the question is how? Gods stepping stones will include people, biblical promises and Holy Spirit intuition and divine provisions. God will keep you from sinking.
Let God “season you” in whatever situation you’re in today, He is equipping you for fruitfulness. No question, the tools God uses to accomplish His purpose can hurt.
“But the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10.
Jason is a graduate from Maryland Bible College and Seminary, and presently he leads the Pastoral Care Team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. Since age 16, Jason has been involved with mission work among the former Soviet-Bloc countries in Eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, and in the United States. While living in Ukraine, he helped church plant three new churches that continue to thrive today under trained nationals. He has also written five books and has his own podcast (tinyurl.com/IRpodcast)