We all face problems in life. Rather than view them as a curse. Think of them as friends in a spiritual refining process. Hear more about this mindset in this week’s podcast.
Pauly [00:00:07] Welcome to walking our talk with Alan and Pauly Heller. Join our conversation as we discuss practical ways to apply spiritual principles to your everyday life and help you walk your talk one step at a time.
Alan [00:00:28] Welcome to Walking Our Talk. I’m Alan Heller. I have my wife Pauly here.
Pauly [00:00:33] Hello.
Alan [00:00:34] And we’re gonna be walking together through seeing God’s purpose in my problems. This is an article I saw by Rick Warren. I really appreciate Rick, because he’s biblical. He’s usually funny as well as very practical in terms of any gives statements like these. God uses problems to direct me, to inspect me, to correct me, to protect me and to perfect me.
Pauly [00:01:02] Oh, wow. That’s very literate.
Alan [00:01:05] Yeah. So I think if I were to ask you to raise your hand, how many of you have experienced the problem? Here’s what the message says, friends. When life gets really difficult. Don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process. The glory just around the corner. First Peter 4:12-13. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way Lamentations 3:33 says, and then in James, of course, we read this. That consider it all joy. My brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect or complete result, that you may be complete lacking in nothing. So God directs us through problems. A person may plan his own journey, but the Lord directs his steps. Sometimes it takes painful experiences to make us change our ways. Proverbs 20 30 says so. I have thought about my life and I have directed my feet back to your written instructions. And I am glad not because it hurt you, but because the pain turns you to God – Second Corinthians 7:9.
Pauly [00:02:44] You know, I was just thinking I got this sort of mental image of a person who says, I’m a mountain climber, I have my hiking boots, I have my ax, I have my ropes, I have my carabiners. I have everything that I need to climb mountains. I have my backpack and my freeze dried food and my thermal blanket. I have all of this equipment to climb a mountain. And now I’m just going to sit here and think about climbing mountains. And look at all my equipment, what good equipment I have. But if you never really get out there and climb a mountain and use, that equipment?
Alan [00:03:31] It doesn’t really matter.
Pauly [00:03:32] No.
Alan [00:03:32] Also, God uses problems to direct us. Have you ever had something go on in your life that you thought you were doing one thing and God said, nope, you’re going to do something else and you got frustrated with it? You know, we’ve had many times in our lives where we’ve had, as Yogi Berra said, if there’s a fork in the road, take it. So, you know, there are all kinds of illustrations of how God directs us through. A problem we’re having might be a relational problem and might be a medical problem. There are all kinds of things that God uses to direct us in the problems that we face. He also uses problems to inspect us. The Lord searches our hearts and examines our deepest motives. So he can give to each person his right reward, according to his deeds, how he has lived. Jeremiah, 17:10. So he searches, he examines and you know, he inspects us. You, God, inspect them every morning and test them every minute. Jobe’s 7:18. Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good but God probes for what is good proverbs 16:2 in the message. God led you all the way in the desert. These 40 years, I think he’s talking about the children of Israel and he humbled you to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. Deuteronomy 8:2. So many times he inspects us through the trials we go through and see, you know, somebody psychologist from another generation, Henry Brandt, used to say, yeah, that’s stirring up my joy. You know, whatever stirs you up, whatever spills out, that’s what you’re made of.
Pauly [00:05:35] Well, I think, again, about, you know, that mountain climber illustration. So let’s say I’m a mountain climber and I put on my boots and my backpack and my have all my equipment and everything, and I decided I’m gonna go for a walk around the block and never have to get out that equipment. And so. Well, all right. Well, I’m going to climb a hill. And so I climb the hill, but I still don’t need that equipment. So, all right. I am actually going to climb a mountain and I start climbing a mountain and oh, now I’m encountering some sheer cliffs. Oh, and now I need to get out my ax to climb up here or I have to use my ropes and I actually have to use this equipment in order to climb this mountain. You don’t know what your equipment can do for you until you’re actually faced with the kind of situation that that equipment is designed for.
Alan [00:06:37] So I think of Andre Crouch. A generation ago, I used the saying, if I never had a problem, I would never know that God could solve them.
Pauly [00:06:50] That’s right.
Alan [00:06:50] And so until we’re met with the bigger problem then we can take care of. We don’t know how much God wants to provide him and help us, but he he inspects and, you know, there used to be a saying, you inspect what you expect. And God inspects us and sees what’s in us by the trials that he gives us.
Alan [00:07:16] Number three is God uses problems to correct me. God corrects all of his children. And if he doesn’t correct you, then you don’t really belong to him. God corrects us for our own good because he wants us to be holy as he is holy Heavers 12:8-10. Consider yourself fortunate. God, all powerful chooses to correct your Joeb 5:17. And lastly, God teaches people through suffering and uses distress to open their eyes Joeb 36:15. And certainly Joe could relate to having a bunch of problems.
Pauly [00:07:53] Well, that’s really true. As members of a grief group, having lost our own son to cancer and sharing the lives and the grief of other people who have lost husbands and wives and children and parents to accidents and sudden death or lingering illnesses, we’ve walked through those kinds of of heart wrenching situations with a lot of people, which requires being able to listen to people and being able to pray with people and get into that place of extreme sadness with them and help them to experience the comfort and the presence of God.
Alan [00:08:49] But he uses it to correct us. How does he use it to correct us?
Pauly [00:08:53] Well, sometimes we end up in problems of our own doing. We’ve spent too much money without thought for how much money we actually have or how much is coming in, or we expected a certain amount of money to be coming in. And then we lost the position that provided our paycheck. And now what do we do? Are we going to rely on money and having the right amount of money to provide for us? Or are we going to trust that God is our provider? Are we going to to give up the pride that comes from knowing that I can provide for myself? I have the capacity to make all of this money, or am I going to confess to God? Wow, my pride got in the way here. I thought that I was capable of handling all this. But really, God, you are the provider.
Alan [00:09:56] So there are issues that we’ve put ourselves into where he corrects us. And there are also things that just happen because we live in a fallen world. And he even uses that to purify our motives and correct us. And the question is, how are we going to react? Are we going to respond to him or we’re going to react and push away. For thee God uses froms to protect me? God will save you from hidden traps. Psalms 91:3. We probably don’t know how many traps God saved us from. God has led you away from danger, giving you freedom. Jobe 36:16. It’s better to suffer for doing good than for doing wrong. First, Peter 3:17 since the Lord is directing your steps. Why try to understand everything that happens along the way? Proverbs 20:24. So since the Lord is directing your steps. So He says trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don’t lean on your own understanding in all your ways. Acknowledge him and he will direct your steps. So if the God of the universe is directing my steps, why am I questioning?
Pauly [00:11:05] Right.
Alan [00:11:06] Well, actually, we think God is good when God blesses us in the way and everything is going our way. And so that is the American way. If it’s going good, then we’re good. If it’s bad, then we’re bad.
Pauly [00:11:23] So we are in ministry and have been in ministry our entire marriage. And so you would think maybe as a lay person would look at our lives and think, well, there are ministers of the gospel or they minister to other people by leading Bible studies and having small groups or counseling people, whatever it is that we do. So we are always walking in the will of God or something like that. But we encountered a situation a number of years ago where we believed that God was dealing us or leading us to another city in another state. We packed up our house in anticipation of moving to this other place, and we couldn’t understand why nobody was renting our house like we had let people know that we were going to be moving. We sold things and then that whole situation fell through. The other ministry opportunity didn’t happen. We didn’t move. We didn’t go there. We had already kind of shut the door on some things here where we were and now we were left hanging. What do we do now God? We were all set to go someplace else and now we’re not. What do we do now? So we had to kind of regroup, regroup, wait on the Lord. Ask God. What is it that you have for us now?
Alan [00:13:06] And what was your blood pressure like then?
Pauly [00:13:08] I don’t know. It was a lot younger. It’s more resilient. But I was anxious. I was worried. I was questioning. So it does cause us to have to go back to God and say, OK. God, what is it? I mean, sometimes we want to know why. God, why. Why is this happening to me? And it’s not so much about why. Sometimes looking back, we can look back and say, oh, wow, that whole situation would have been really disastrous for us had we gone through with it, had we gone there. That would not have worked out well for us. God was really being gracious in not allowing us to go there and keeping us here and opening up other doors of ministry opportunity for us right here where we were.
Alan [00:14:02] So God uses problems to direct us, to inspect us, to correct us, to protect us. Sometimes we don’t even know that he’s protecting us from a bad decision that we thought was good. But he sees the whole picture and then God uses problems to perfect me. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all Grace, who calls you to share his eternal glory and union with Christ will himself purrfect you and give you firmness, strength and a sure foundation. First, Peter, 5:10 sheerness strength and a firm foundation. But after you’ve suffered a while, again, that’s not part of the American way. Everything is supposed to be smooth and Disneyland and we get everything we want and that’s how we become glorious.
Alan [00:14:58] So he’s perfecting us. We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials. This is Romans 5:3-4. We know that they’re are good for us. And just getting a mindset, the problems are good for us. I just think that’s a very difficult thing because we’re always looking at what the perfect is and that’s what we’re striving for. And yet in order to get to the perfect, you have to go through a lot of failure. They help us learn to be patient and patient’s develop strength of character in us and helps us trust God more. Each time we use it. And I think what happens in our Christian life is as we we mature because we’ve gone through things that we’ve messed up and we’ve had bad experiences. And and so when we suffer for a while, we know after awhile that, oh, God’s perfecting me, even though I don’t like it, it doesn’t feel good. But I’ve seen God change me into his likeness more of the time when I go through hard times. It’s not the easy times. It’s the times of failure that actually produce the gold in people and in I mean, you think about Edison trying to do the light bulb. I mean, most things that are have been discovered. They’ve been discovered by mistake. And nobody ever knew that. Oh, this this happens when you do that. You know, I think the Post-it note was 3M was really discouraged because this guy made this note that you could just it would fall off after a while. And yet Post-it notes are there just to mainstream in America.
Pauly [00:16:46] Where would I be without my Post-it notes? Yeah, I realize that in this script. Sure. The kinds of sufferings and trials that the apostle Paul is talking about are of a magnitude, and that is far greater than anything that we have ever experienced here. We have not suffered for our faith. We’ve not been thrown into jail for believing in Christ. We’ve not been beaten for preaching the gospel. That is so much greater of a trial than anything that we have experienced. But the principles are still the same. We need to just trust that God has something greater for us no matter what we’re going through.
Alan [00:17:36] That’s not the easiest thing to do. We have to learn that by faith. And many times God puts us through things that we never expected. Certainly when we found out that our son had colorectal cancer at 32 years old, he was single, was actually on his way to go to Iraq to serve with the National Guard. It was just a devastating experience that we didn’t sign up for. And but what do you do? I mean, you choose to draw upon all the background that you have in your heritage with God and all those quiet times and all that time in the word and all those times of going through difficult situations where God came through, even though right now in the midst of that trial, we were devastated and went through all kinds of difficulties in our marriage and our personal life. Depression, sleeplessness, just a very difficult time. That was. That’s the closest thing we can relate to suffering, I think.
Pauly [00:18:47] Well, that’s true. And yet during that time, I had a very distinct sense of God’s presence, of his comforting me and carrying me through my grief. After Josh died and my ability to just be there with him on a daily basis while he was going through his pain and the suffering of that awful disease.
Alan [00:19:20] So allow God to direct and perfect you. And I’ll leave you with this one more time. And James, it says, Consider it all Joy. My brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be whole or complete, lacking in nothing. So as the Lord perfects you and you become more like him, we pray that your walk, your talk.
Alan [00:19:54] This is Alan Heller with Pauly. And if you want to get in touch with us, just go to [email protected] or go to our website: walkandtalk.org. We have lots of resources. Walk and talk. And we’ll see you next time. As we walk our talk.
Pauly [00:20:18] This has been walking our talk with Alan and Pauly Heller, where we put into action those principles. We know from God’s word one step at a time. You can find more help at our Web site: walkandtalk.org.