Over the years I have at times been unhappy about unwanted interruptions by silly little problems that disrupt what I am doing. It’s wonderful to get uninterrupted time to get on with a project. So when there is a small hitch or something that has to be attended to it can be quite frustrating.
What helped me get past my feelings of annoyance is the realisation that God is in control of things, even to the little details. When something annoying happens it just may be that God, in His infinite wisdom and seeing things from His perspective, knows that the annoyance is a good thing, not bad.
You may well have had the experience where some distraction came up that pulled you away from what you would prefer to be doing. Maybe it pulled you away from something productive, or maybe it pulled you away from some personal entertainment you enjoyed.
At times the distraction alerts you to something you would otherwise have ignored, such as how much time has passed and that you need to be moving onto some other appointment.
You may have to go fossicking in a cupboard for something that is needed, and in there notice things you needed to be aware of – such as being out of something or your cupboard invaded by ants.
So I began to train myself to think of problems and interruptions as things handed to me by God, whether I wanted them or not and whether I could see what good there was in them or not.
What I then realised is that one common outcome from an interruption is exercise. Every time I drop something or have to get out of my chair to go find something I need, I am exercising myself. If I could sit at my desk for hours I might feel quite productive, but there are physical downsides.
We are told to regularly get up, look out a window, get fresh air, stretch and flex our muscles and so on. When we are focused on our work or interests we are likely to ignore such advice.
God, in His wisdom, might decide to send someone to your front door, getting you up and moving. You can be annoyed at the interruption, especially if it was someone at the wrong address, or you can thank God that He prompted you to get up and move.
What about those times when the thing you need is at the back of some very high cupboard, or very low shelf. You find yourself getting into positions not normal for you, or stretching further than you normally do. That might be just what your muscles or body needs.
I came up with a phrase to remind me that God may well be giving me a problem or two to prompt me to do something good for me. The phrase is “My Problem is My Opportunity”.
Instead of resenting having to get up and leave my workspace, I kept in mind that the problem I suddenly have to solve is an opportunity in some way or another.
As I’ve mentioned, one opportunity is to get up and active. The saying goes “Use it or Lose it”, to remind us that if we don’t use our muscles and faculties they can tend to shut down.
However, there is a richer scope of ‘Opportunity’ as well. Some annoyances and problems don’t require you to get up and active. They may be annoyances with your spouse and family. They may be hurts and offences that come from people criticising you or misunderstanding you. Those problems are also opportunities.
Just as I have to keep using my physical faculties I also have to keep using my inner faculties as well. I have to keep doing the things God asks of me, such as living by faith, forgiving offenders, loving my enemies and so on.
I can be as lazy about spiritual challenges as I can be with my body. So God may well send me an annoyance that challenges my internal responses. In those situations “My Problem is my Opportunity!”
How long has it been since you practiced forgiving someone who offended you? It may have been a long time. So, God in His infinite wisdom can send along someone who treads all over your toes, so to speak. They can offend and insult you or otherwise annoy you. And that specially assigned Problem is sent to you by God to be your Opportunity.
What about your faith? Do you regularly press in to God for things that don’t look like they are going to work out? If you have a lazy faith muscle God can send you a divinely created Problem as your specially crafted Opportunity. Maybe God can send you a financial need, or a health scare, or a threat to your comfort and circumstances.
How wonderful of God to care enough for us to send along these lovely Problems!
Or do you resent such things? Your Problem is Your Opportunity. It is God’s doorway into greater grace and greater faith. It is God’s prompt for you to keep fresh your walk with Him. It is God’s gift of a way to “live by faith”.
“The righteous will live by their faith” Romans 1:17
It is God’s gift of an opportunity to forgive a few more times, heading toward the seventy times seven.
“Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21,22
We each have a range of spiritual challenges. Children are to obey parents, husbands are to love their wife, wives are to submit to their husband, employees are to work for their boss as if working for the Lord, and so on. Most of us find some ‘problem’ with following Christ’s instructions at some time or other.
When you face such a ‘problem’ situation, I urge you not to be resentful, but to realise that God may be using this very situation to test and school your heart. So from now on start to see that Your Problems are Your Opportunities.