Solving Problems Part 4: The Purpose Of Problems
Deut. 8:1-6 Job 14:1
* Being a Christian does no make us immune to problems.
* As Christians we experience relational problems, financial problems, family problems, health problems, emotional problems, employment problems, parenting problems, and civil problems…just to mention a few!
* As Christians, we have major problems with our kids and we have minor problems with our kids.
Joke - A Great Cup of Tea
This is taken from the Dr. James Dobson Bulletin for June
Have you noticed that children sometimes try to be helpful,
but it makes your life more complicated?
I heard a story about a mother who was sick with the flu.
Her darling daughter wanted to be a good nurse. She fluffed
the pillows and brought a magazine for her mother to read.
And then she showed up with a cup of tea.
"You’re such a sweetheart," the mother said as she drank the
tea. "I didn’t know you could make tea."
"Oh, yes," the little girl replied. "I put the tea leaves in
the water like you do, and I boiled it, and then I strained
it into a cup. But I couldn’t find a strainer, so I used the
And the little girl said, "Oh, don’t worry, Mom. I didn’t
use the new flyswatter. I used the old one."
* We can have minor or major problems with kids, parents, employers or others.
* In fact, a Christian can and does experience some of the same problems he had before he was saved.
* Today many people want to escape their problems.
1) Some choose the path of alcohol and drugs as their way of escape. Both prescribed and illegal drugs are used as a means of escapism. People cannot deal with their problems so they attempt to drown their problems in alcohol and drugs.
2) Another means of escape is work. Some choose to become workaholics. It’s their way of avoiding dealing with their problems. They immerse themselves in what they do. Their mind is preoccupied with work instead of that “little relationship problem” he is having with the wife at home.
3) Others choose the path of reading as a means of escape. They wind up living in the unreal world of the printed page. Rather than thinking about or concentrating on their own problems, they find relief by filling their mind with the fantasy of other peoples lives.
* We have already talked about the causes of problems. Last week, we attempted to dig a little deeper into the root causes of some problems.
* This week … Purpose of problems
* Webster defines “purpose” = something set up as an object or end to be attained
* Problems are not coincidences, or chance, or happenstance; not luck or unlucky.
* There is a reason for all our problems and there is a purpose for each problem.
* God has an end to be attained… a purpose!
* Each problem you and I face will fit into one or more of these five purposes.
1) To Conform Us To The Image Of Christ Rom. 8:28-29
Rom 8:28-29 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (29) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
* God wants me to become like Jesus in my character and my conduct!
* He didn’t just save us to take us to heaven… if that were all He had in mind he would have already taken us!
* We are diamonds in the rough! It takes intense heat and pressure to form one of the most precious jewels known to man.
* Illustration: Famous sculptor – huge rock – his plan was to make it look like a horse. He says, “I am going to make this into a horse!” “How are you going to make this ugly rock look like a horse?” asked one curious person. “I am going to chip away everything that doesn’t look like a horse!”
* The psalmist grew or matured as a result of his trouble or problems.
Psalm 4:1 “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.”
* Example: Paul – He learned contentment by going through the extreme experiences of life.
Philippians 4:10-12 “10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
-- Problems helped to make him more like Jesus in his life.
-- Problems developed in Paul a godly contentment.
* Example: Paul - II Cor. 11:21-31 These sufferings didn’t result in Paul’s glory, but God’s glory . Paul contrasts himself with the false apostles of Corinth.
2Co 11:22-31 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. (23) Are they ministers of Christ? I (speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. (24) Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. (25) Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; (26) In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; (27) In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (28) Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. (29) Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? (30) If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. (31) The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed forevermore, knoweth that I lie not.
Paraphrase of V. 30-31 “If I have to “brag” about myself, I’ll brag about the humiliations that make me like Jesus. The eternal and blessed God and Father of our Master Jesus knows I’m not lying.”
* God allows us to go through the furnace to refine us.
Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
2) To Humble Us Deut. 8:1-2b
Deu 8:1-2 All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers. (2) And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or not.
* Humble = “to take the low place”
* Opposite of what the world emphasizes!
* God will use problems in our lives to bring us to the low place
* To reduce us to weakness
* You see, many times our problem is not that we are not strong enough, but that we are not weak enough!
* In scripture, the humble and the proud are contrasted.
* God hates pride. In Proverbs it is one of the seven things God hates.
* Pride led to the fall of the archangel, Lucifer.
* I John 2:16 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
* Arrogance and a prideful attitude have no place in the life of a Christian.
* So God will sometimes use problems to humble us.
* Example: Paul – II Cor. 12:7 “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” Purpose of problem (thorn in flesh) was to humble Paul,… to keep pride from entering in.
* Example – Kingdom was taken from Saul because of pride…he arrogantly pronounced himself as god by disobeying the Word of the Lord when he went to fight against the Amalekites.
I Sam. 15:17 “And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?”
* Example – King Nebuchadnezzar
Dan 4:28-37 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. (29) At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. (30) The king spoke, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty? (31) While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. (32) And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. (33) The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. (34) And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: (35) And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (36) At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honor and brightness returned unto me; and my counselors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. (37) Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase.
3) To Increase Our Faith Deut. 8:2c
Deu 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee,...
* To prove … put to the test
* Everyday they spent in the wilderness was a test of faith.
* Literally trusting God for food and water.
* There was no storing up or “banking up deposits” for the future.
* No silos or grain bins to save up food for the future.
* Often God allows problems to come into our lives to increase our faith.
* Example – Disciples – In boat with Jesus. Storm comes up. “Master don’t you care if we perish?”
Later in Mark 6:45-52 …in boat without Jesus.
* Jesus wanted them to trust him whether he was in the boat or not!
* These storms were planned by Jesus to increase the faith of the disciples.
* Andrea Crouch , Song – “Through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God… If I never had a problem, I wouldn’t know that God could solve them.”
* Jas 1:2-4 MSG Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. (3) You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. (4) So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
4) To Expose Our Wickedness Deut. 8:2
Deu 8:2 … and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart,….
* God already knows ours hearts, but we don’t!
* God knows the “heart is deceitful and desperately wicked…”
* He wants us to see for ourselves just how wicked we really are.
* People sometimes say, “Well, I know my own heart,” but the frightening fact is that we don’t know our own hearts.
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9, NIV).
? What do you get out of an orange when you squeeze it?
* Lemon? -- The fruit by nature is sour and what comes out is sour!
* When your husband irritates, squeezes, puts pressure on you, what comes out? Devil?
* Your husband didn’t make you evil….what comes out is what’s inside!
* When your wife squeezes you, …what comes out?
* NOTE – Marriage doesn’t create problems, it reveals them!
* When God squeezes you, what comes out?
* When problems roll in,… what rolls out of you?
* When God puts the pressure on us, what is in us is what comes out!
* We don’t like to admit it, but we are not nearly as good as we think we are!
- We may be better than our neighbor, … or other Christians.
- But there is sin on the inside of all of us.
- We all have a dark side we don’t want anyone else to see.
Gen. 42:1-24 read – Joseph’s brothers begin to see their wrong after approx. 13 years.
5) To Teach Us That Man Shall Not Live By Bread Alone. Deut. 8:3
Deu 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
* The manna was much more than daily physical sustenance; it was a type of the coming Messiah who is “the bread of life” (John 6:35).
* God was teaching the Jews to look to Him for “daily bread” (Matt. 6:11) and to begin each day meditating on the Word of God.
* Problems have a way of driving us to our knees and into the Word of God.
* In order to really live, ….live life at it’s fullest, …get the greatest enjoyment out of life…to experience abundant life …we need the Bread of God.
* We need not only physical food but also spiritual food (daily nourishment from the Word of God).
His Word makes us blessed and fruitful.
Psa 1:1-3 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (3) And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
Lessons For Life
1) Every problem in the life of a Christian has a purpose.
* There is no such thing as a problem without purpose.
* God doesn’t allow problems in our lives just to watch us squirm.
* Since God causes everything to work together for our good, everything has meaning and purpose.
* The purpose may be:
- to humble us … to bring us to the end of ourselves
- to increase our faith
- to make us more like Jesus … to refine us… to remove the dross from our lives
- to expose our hearts to ourselves
- to teach us how much we need God and His Word in our lives
* In the life of an unbeliever, God doesn’t cause everything to work together for good… A tragedy is a tragedy in the life of an unbeliever. But it’s different with a Christian.
* We may not always understand or be able to see the purpose, but there is one.
2) God sometimes gives us grace to endure our problems.
* Sometimes God gives us grace to endure our problem.
* The problem remains,… it’s not removed, … we are not delivered from it.
* Ex. Paul – thorn in the flesh. II Cor. 12:7
* Paul first fought it! Tried to deliver himself from the problem,…prayed for God to deliver him from it!
2Co 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
* God said there was a purpose for this problem—prevention of pride!... keep Paul humble… to keep him usable.
* Paul’s circumstances did not change, - his problem did not go away,… but Paul’s attitude toward his problem changed. He began to see purpose in it! Therefore he gloried in the problems that made him weak.
3) God sometimes chooses to remove our problems.
* It is really His decision.
* Sometimes God removes the problem.
* Ex. Paul Acts 16:25-40 - Paul and Silas in Philippian jail … beaten
* When pressure was put on, what came out? --singing & praising God!
* It’s as though God said, "I don’t see any reason to leave you in this problem,… you are responding the way you should (singing & praising God),… I’ll take it away."
* God supernaturally changed their circumstances, freeing them from prison.
* God is much more interested in what is going on inside of us than what is going on outside of us.
* Sometimes He gives us grace to endure; other times He delivers us out of the problem.