Opening Prayer: Lord, my circumstances are causing me stress and distress. To all appearances, my situation is hopeless. Please open my eyes to see the help that You have planned for me.
Can I find solutions to ALL my problems in the Bible?
Actually, yes. But I might not always recognize them at first glance. Finding Scriptural answers to a particular human problem means going through at least three steps:
- Realize the nature and source of the problem. This can be tricky: sometimes I can't identify the source of my problem until I stop blaming the obvious culprit or circumstances.
- Read enough Scriptures to be reasonably sure you've encountered at least one helpful passage. It's best to read the Bible daily, with frequent excursions through the Psalms and Proverbs. If you're new at this, see if your Bible has any type of subject index or Concordance section, and try to find passages with related keywords.
- Pray for the Lord to show you which passages apply to your situation and what you should do next.
So much for theory. For specifics, let's look at Psalm 4 verse 1:Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.
The key to spiritual problem solving is right in the middle of the verse: "...Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress." Unfortunately, most modern translations say something like "...you have relieved me..." or "...you have helped me..." and only the original King James Version says "enlarged."
So what's the point? Which is correct and why does it matter?
The Hebrew word literally means "enlarged" or "made room for." This is important because God does not always answer prayer by shrinking my problems.
Many times I pray for God to (a) make the problem go away, (b) make the problem shrink to manageable size, or (c) give me a shot of some spiritual narcotic to ease the pain. Only rarely are these types of prayers answered to my liking. Sometimes in His mercy, God will shrink the problem. However, He greatly prefers to enlarge me, to give me more capacity for coping with the problems. Like an athletic coach, He'd rather see me develop spiritual health, strength, conditioning and resiliency.
Another Scripture that sheds light on this subject is 1 John 5:13-15:These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 14 And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: 15 And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.
The context and content of this verse hold a wealth of insight:
- First and foremost, God's promises are reserved for those who believe in the Name of His Son, our Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus). See our lesson on Good News for the simple steps in being sure that you have eternal life. If you are a believer in His Name, you can proceed to the next step.
- We should ask according to His will. If His will is not clear to us (and frequently we're hurting too bad to see it right away), we can ask Him to show us His will.
- Once we know His will, we must find a way to reconcile our wills to His. This is not a trivial step. Some times I spend more time praying to discover and really accept His will than I do praying for whatever it was I started out trying to get. Especially since what I wanted was not part of His plan.
- Once we can pray -- sincerely -- for His will to be done, we can be 100% sure that He hears us and is ready to answer us.
Remember that God's goal is to "enlarge me" when I'm in distress. This means that every distressing situation is an opportunity for growth.
Hold it, mister! I'm not interested in growing. I just need this problem fixed.
Be careful not to waste your opportunity, which is a (disguised) gift from God. If you refuse to humble yourself to seek His will, He might give you a larger gift to get your attention. Then you'll really wish you were enlarged.
We all know good people (including maybe you?) who are angry with God about some deep personal loss. They don't understand why God didn't step in and prevent this tragedy. After all, they read through and claimed all the Scriptural passages concerning healing, and surely a loving God doesn't WILL to see the child and parents suffering so badly. The unfortunate treadmill logic (a free gift from our adversary) goes something like:
- Something bad just happened.
- I prayed for God to fix the situation. After all, there are lots of examples in the Bible of healings and rescues and deliverances.
- God didn't fix the situation to my liking. Therefore...
- Maybe God isn't interested in my prayers, or
- Maybe God isn't loving, or
- Maybe God isn't, or
- Maybe the Bible isn't true.
What you do with your growth opportunities is your business, not mine. But if you find yourself really distressed and hurting, I suggest seeking the Lord's face and letting Him speak directly to your heart. Getting enlarged really isn't so bad.
King David continued Psalm 4 with advice to folks like you and me:3 But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for Himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto Him. 4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. 6 [There be] many that say, Who will shew us [any] good? LORD, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us. 7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time [that] their corn and their wine increased. 8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for Thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Call unto the Lord and pour your heart out before Him. Then open your heart up to Him and let Him fill you with His love and wisdom and peace.
Closing Prayer: Lord, I'm a slow learner and a poor listener. You've had to give me too many lessons on the same subject. Teach me to seek Your will, and be gracious in helping me understand and accept it. Amen.