Challenges, Not Problems

Have you ever had someone say to you, “What you are going through in your life right now is a challenge, not a problem.”?  I have. I was in the midst of what I thought was a problem but after thinking about it, was then able to turn it into a challenge. I’ve had many “challenges” lately and one day I thought of that little statement. And, being the “overthinker” that I am, I began to think about the Bible and all God has left for us to encourage us through these challenges. Knowing that there are people who have gone through something like I am at the time seems to encourage me more, so I thought of 3 people in the Bible who had similar challenges as myself – I had never thought about them quite in this way before.

If you are interested, you can read about Joseph in Genesis 37-50, Daniel from the book of Daniel, and Esther from the book of Esther.) So, thinking about them, I wanted to capture their hardships and understand they, like many others, have “challenges” in their lives, not just me.

All three of them were stripped from all they loved and knew. Joseph by his brothers, Daniel by the Babylonians, and Esther by the Persians.

I thought of 14 things in their lives that could resemble somebody else:

  1. They were stripped from the ones they loved most.
  2. They were stripped from all the things they loved most, including their home, without choice.
  3. Most of the choices made in their lives were made by others, whether or not they were hurtful, good, or bad.
  4. They were moved to a new and unfamiliar home and had to begin a new way of life.
  5. They all lived at the mercy of others, but trusted God to work things out, sometimes through tears.
  6. Their daily lives were lived out in unfamiliarity.
  7. They had someone who wanted to destroy them.
  8. They all had to deal with the anguish of a broken heart.
  9. They were all dealing with wicked and evil enemies who had their own “gods” and did not believe in the One True God.
  10. They all had someone who helped them.
  11. Their enemies were cruel and heartless.
  12. They loved God and trusted Him.
  13. They wanted to please God first in their lives.
  14. They all prayed for God to remove them from their circumstances or give them the grace to endure and live for Him in the midst of it all.

I’m sure there could be more, depending on each individual’s circumstances. However, the constant coping mechanisms in their lives they all showed was their true character and love for God, which are:

  1. Loved God truly and constantly looked to Him.
  2. They wholeheartedly trusted God, no matter what.
  3. They were able to have contentment – not happiness – in their circumstances, knowing God was in control
  4. They thanked God for what they were supplied with.
  5. They were thankful for the people He put in their lives that were helpful.
  6. They adjusted to their cruel and overbearing enemies.
  7. They pleased God as they put Him first in their lives.

Well, I sure can identify with their challenges, but it’s those coping mechanisms I sure would love to come to fruition in my life as I do strive in the midst of my circumstances. My Bible has profiles of many of the people from the Bible and, of course, there is a profile of Joseph, Esther, and Daniel. I thought I would share them with you because they sure made me think about myself.

Joseph:

  • He rose in power from a slave to a ruler of Egypt
  • He was known for his personal integrity
  • He was a man of spiritual sensitivity
  • Prepared a nation to survive a famine

What can we learn from Joseph?

  • What matters is not so much the events or circumstances of life, but our response to them.
  • With God’s help, any situation can be used for good, even when others intend it for evil.

Esther:

  • Not only her beauty, but her character won the heart of Persia’s king
  • She combined courage with careful planning
  • She was open to advice and willing to act
  • She was more concerned for others than her own security

Our lesson:

  • Serving God often demands that we risk our own security
  • God has a purpose for the situations in which He places us
  • Courage, while often vital, does not replace careful planning.

Daniel:

  • Although young when deported, remained true to his faith
  • Served as an adviser to two Babylonian kings and two Medo-Persia kings
  • Was a man of prayer and a statesman with the gift of prophecy
  • Survived the lions’ den

Our lesson:

  • Quiet convictions often earn long-term respect
  • Don’t wait until you are in a tough situation to learn about prayer
  • God can use people wherever they are.

As I read back over this to edit it I see I have quite the lists. But, sometimes when you have quite a lot to say with examples, lists help us see each one better instead of them being all in a big paragraph where we lose some of them. I do want to say that I use the Life Application Study Bible and this information was taken straight from them so I don’t take any credit for this, I got them straight from the profiles of characters in the Bible. I enjoy those and, like these, there is something to be learned from each one.

I guess there really isn’t much more to be said about challenges except that everybody has them and as was documented above, it’s how we handle or respond to those circumstances that counts. I’m sorry to say, most times I don’t respond well right off. Sometimes it seems like God has to shout to me before I settle down and look at the big picture. Or maybe not look at all and just trust and follow God, even when it doesn’t make sense to me – it doesn’t have to make sense to me. Right?!?

I do hope I have peaked your interest in these three people and if you haven’t read about them that you will find a Bible and do so. The New Living Translation has been translated so that it’s almost like reading a novel. Give it a try – you might be pleasantly surprised. (I’m sure the library has copies of the Bible so if you don’t have one that might be a place to try as well as any church around.)

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