Chapter Four

How Do You Solve Troubles?

Everyone is convinced he has more than his share of troubles. Most people readily will talk about having many problems. Yet, most people are hesitant to discuss specific problems because they fear they will reveal the depth of their struggles. The Christian does not exist who does not struggle with some spiritual matters, who does not fight internal battles, and who does not have some problems that he fears are unresolvable. Every Christian wearies of his own conflicts. Since personal troubles create a continuing, daily dilemma for every Christian, how should he seek to solve troubles and problems?

Attitudes Toward Troubles
No Christian responsibility exceeds the challenge of developing the proper outlook on problems. The variety of attitudes concerning problems held by Christians illustrates the difficulty. Attitude one: "Ignore troubles!" One is to pretend troubles are not there and act as though they do not exist. He is to refuse to think about them or to consider their effects. However, few people have the ability to ignore personal troubles even briefly. Those who can ignore them can do so only temporarily. One cannot pretend troubles away. Troubles exist because something is amiss in one's life, and that something is serious enough to cause pain and frustration. Ignoring troubles only allows them to grow in size and seriousness.

Attitude two: "Give in to troubles." This is a defeatist's attitude of surrender. He reasons he cannot win against troubles for three reasons: they are bigger than he is; he cannot destroy them; and they will never cease. Fighting against them only produces pain and a prolonged struggle. His philosophy is to choose the course of the least amount of suffering. It guarantees he will encounter serious depression which likely will end in despair.

Attitude three: "Accept troubles as a fact and learn to live with them." This is likely the most common Christian attitude toward personal troubles. It is the most common advice given to those struggling with problems. This advice declares one is to accept his troubles by refusing to ignore them or to pretend the troubles are not there. Under no circumstances does he surrender to them. After making necessary adjustments, he lives his life in sprit of his troubles. While this attitude contains definite elements of a healthy spiritual outlook, it does not answer some important questions. Is a Christian's only recourse to live with his troubles? Is the only answer to all troubles accepting them and making necessary adjustments?

Attitude four: "Destroy your troubles by solving them." Every Christian would agree that this attitude is a worthy ambition and a noble aspiration. Yet, everyone knows the difficulty of actually resolving all troubles. A few years of adulthood teaches one that some problems defy solution regardless of one's determination or good intentions.

Troubles And Solutions
While "solve your problems" would be the obvious attitude of choice, the question remains, "How do you solve personal troubles?" Will determination and effort solve all problems? Can a Christian realistically hope to eliminate all his troubles by resolving them? No! Regardless of his faith and determination, a Christian cannot solve all his personal troubles for two reasons. First, some troubles exist because of the deeds, actions, or troubles of others. If the trouble in part or in whole is produced by someone else, complete resolution of the problem does not lie in one's own power. He is not helpless and powerless in the face of such troubles. He simply cannot resolve them alone.

Second, some private troubles are beyond an individual's power of resolve. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 illustrates this truth in Paul's life:

By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch. Concerning this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Wherefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake: for when I am weak then am I strong.

To guard Paul against conceit, he received, suffered from, and endured a thorn in the flesh sent from Satan. The Lord refused to remove the problems. He declared His grace would sustain Paul, and His power would be perfected in Paul's weakness. With that understanding, Paul accepted his problem as a blessing rather than a frustration.

Were it not for troubles, Christians would be self-reliant and would be convinced that they did not need the Lord's help. Even with troubles they too easily become self-reliant. Some troubles are in the Christian's best spiritual interest because they serve as a constant reminder of his need for dependence upon the Lord's strength. Continuing troubles cause Christians to understand that the true power of spiritual preservation and endurance is found in total dependence upon the Lord.

What personal troubles can a Christian resolve? Basically he can resolve those which are of his own making. Those include troubles which exist because of one's own actions, of personal feelings and attitudes of ignorance, and of one's own lack of wisdom and spirituality. These are the common sources of most personal troubles and of most of life's hurts and pains.

Hindering Solution
To solve personal troubles, one must understand the factors which prohibit a solution. Some attitudes and actions make it impossible for a person to solve his troubles. Those actions and attitudes must be identified and understood. To live with troubles which can be resolved is foolish and destructive. A Christian must be certain his troubles are not continuing because he stands in the way of the solution.

First, a Christian can prohibit a solution to his troubles by defending the faults and weaknesses which produced the problem. Most troubles exist for one of two reasons. He refuses to identify his faults and weaknesses, or he defends his faults or weaknesses by arguing that they are innocent and not responsible for the problem. Some Christians are actually proud of their faults and weaknesses saying, "I am not ashamed that I... It is foolish and ridiculous for anyone to think that is harmful." This turns the faults and weaknesses which created the troubles into personal merits. Troubles are never resolved by defending faults and weaknesses.

Second, a Christian can prohibit a solution to his troubles by justifying his mistakes, faults, or weaknesses. Common justifications include these: "I know this is wrong; I should not act this way; I should not have this attitude. But the situation is not really my fault; I am not to blame." "If Brother Joe had not acted as he did, I would never have done that." "The circumstances gave me no other choice." Often when a troubled Christian is encouraged to accept responsibility for his actions, he responds, "I am certain in the same situation you would have done the same thing--or worse!" Or, "You were not there and do not understand; had you been there, you would not say that!" The reasoning which justifies ones weaknesses is this: (1) What was done was undeniably wrong. (2) However, a reason makes it right in my situation. (3) Circumstances demand that it should be ignored in my case. (4) My situation is an exception. Troubles are never resolved by justifying or excusing weaknesses.

Third, a Christian can prohibit a solution to his troubles by evading or ignoring faults and weaknesses. This person emphatically declares there is nothing wrong with him, and he has done nothing wrong. The personal problem exists, but it is not the result of his actions. Or, this person adeptly ignores the trouble by refusing to talk about it. By choosing to ignore the whole matter he declares it is no one's concern but his. In either case, the person is pretending. The idea of his having a problem is a creation of someone else's imagination. Troubles are never resolved by evading or ignoring mistakes or weaknesses.

Aiding Solution
To solve personal problems, one also must understand the factors which aid a solution. First, he must admit the problem is there. As an example, an alcoholic and a drug addict cannot be helped until they admit their addiction. Both commonly refuse to admit their addiction. They pretend they have a smaller, more manageable problem. This attitude is characteristic of all problemed people including Christians. It is hard to confess problems to self. The problem itself generates an intimidating fear which forces the person to hide from himself. Confessing the problem is confessing a failure; no one wishes to admit failure. Confessing the problem is an admission that one cannot cope with the problem; that is a distasteful admission.

Second, he must look for the source of trouble within himself. The Christian with the courage and honesty to admit his troubles arise from is own life is rare. Most will blame any possible thing to create a scapegoat and to evade the responsibility and failure. Rather than admit the cause lies within their own minds and hearts, they play the role of the victim. Christians who are serious about resolving troubles must ask themselves some hard questions and search for honest answers within.

Third, he must have a "gut desire" to either defeat the problem or control the trouble. Wanting the trouble to end or preferring the problem to be resolved is insufficient. Only a compelling desire which makes finding a solution a matter of urgency and of top priority will create sufficient motivation to produce change. Changing has to become a must.

Christians who use troubles for a convenient excuse for their actions and behavior do not want their troubles to disappear. Neither do those who use their troubles to evade spiritual responsibility or service. Their professions of desiring solutions are often less than honest.

The Critical Factor
The greatest factor in coping with or triumphing over personal troubles is confidence in the Lord's ability to help His people. The Christian who is determined to resolve his troubles will lay aside all defenses, excuses, false justifications, evasions, and pretenses. He will pray, "Lord, please help me. I hold nothing back; I ask without reservation or qualification. Help me! In any way You can, with whatever it takes, help me!"

It is easy to say, "Lord, help me!" This usually means, "Lord, use your power in some marvelous way to make my troubles disappear." This person sits as a bystander awaiting a wondrous act which never comes. It is more difficult to say, "Lord , help me! I hold nothing back." This person is ready to do anything, to make any change if granted the wisdom to understand what to do. This good attitude is still not the spiritually mature attitude. The most difficult statement is, "Lord, with no reservations or qualifications, I ask You to help me in any way You will." This person makes no conditions, places nothings off-limits. There are no restrictions on how God helps or what experiences he must endure. He seeks help regardless of what must happen. This is the attitude of mature faith which builds solutions.

When a Christian asks for God's help with troubles or problems, he is requesting one of the following: (1) He is asking God to resolve the problem through a solution which will end the matter. (2) If a solution is not possible, he is asking God for the wisdom and understanding to cope with the problem. Coping allows him through Christ to retain control of his life. (3) If coping is not possible, he is asking God for the strength to endure the problem. Though he cannot control the problem, the strength enables him to live through it. He still chooses the life in Christ he wants and keeps his faith and hope intact. When a Christian has full faith in God, he is confident God can do any of these three things. He does not choose which of the three God must do; he gratefully accepts any of the three.

The critical issue in resolving troubles is faith. Faith is measured by the degree one trusts the Lord. On a night filled with more troubles than any Christian today could imagine, Jesus tried to prepare his best friends for his betrayal and execution. Revealing the unthinkable, he declared he would be killed, and he would go to a place they could not come. They would be scattered and come to be hated and rejected. All that the disciples could see were troubles crashing down upon them. In those moments of uncertainty and confusion, Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God; believe also in me" (John 14:1) Moments later he said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Tribulations are unavoidable in this world. Even so, in Him there is peace.

Years after witnessing that night, Peter wrote, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your anxiety upon him, for he careth for you" (I Peter 5:6,7). Paul, who knew the full meaning of trouble, wrote, "In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). Again, he wrote, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be the glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20, 21)

There is nothing in life so terrible or so powerful that it surpasses the Lord's ability to help His people. The Lord can help a Christian with any form of trouble or any kind of problem. Nothing is beyond His helping and caring. Being helped with troubles is never a question of the Lord's power. It is a question of trusting the Lord's power, of being honest and open about one's troubles, and of being willing to pay faith's price of solving, coping with, or enduring one's troubles. Because Jesus has overcome the world, He can help any Christian overcome. If one believes in God and in Jesus, he has no reason to let his heart be troubled.


  1. Name and explain four common attitudes toward problems.
  2. Explain why ignoring problems cannot solve problems.
  3. Why should people not "give in" to their problems?
  4. Why is accepting one's troubles an inadequate approach to problems?
  5. What is the basic difficulty with the attitude which declares that all problems should be solved?
  6. Can any Christian resolve all problems and thus eliminate them from his life? Explain your answer.
  7. What would be the result if Christians had no troubles?
  8. Explain how each of the following factors prohibits solutions to problems:
    1. Defending one's faults and weaknesses
    2. Excusing or justifying one's faults, mistakes, or weaknesses
    3. Evading or ignoring mistakes, faults, or weaknesses
  9. Explain the importance of each of the following factors in solving troubles:
    1. Admitting the trouble is there
    2. Looking within one's self for the true source of the trouble
    3. The overpowering desire to control the problem
  10. Discuss the significance and effectiveness of the following pleas:
    1. "Lord, help me."
    2. "Lord, help me! I hold nothing back."
    3. "Lord, I ask you to help me without qualification or reservation."
  11. A Christian is asking God to do one of three things when he asks God to resolve his problems. Give each and discuss it.

Thought Questions

  1. It is easy to pray for solutions for problems. Why is it hard to pray sincerely for God to help one to cope with a problem or to endure a trouble?
  2. Why must a Christian know nothing in life is so terrible or so powerful that it surpasses the Lord's ability to help him?
  3. Discuss the blessings to be found in facing problems or troubles.
  4. What is the most important lesson in this chapter?
transcribed by Donna Carson
Copyright © 1983, David Chadwell
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