How To Better Understand Your Problems


Over the past year, I have been overwhelmed more than once by our inability as a society to solve the big problems of the world.  With each crisis that we face, it seems to grow, and I don't know exactly what to do. 

But, honestly... who am I kidding?  I can't even seem to solve the problems that are happening six inches in front of my face, lately.  

I have to make phone calls today to a bureaucratic institution to resolve an issue and the thought of everything I am going to have to do to make that happen makes me feel tired inside.  

I woke up this morning thinking about that task and all of the things I have to do--- dreading it all, and wishing I could just wish it away.  

But then I had a revelation in the middle of all of my spinning thoughts that came to me as thought/voice in my head:  "There's a bigger picture."  

I thought about that for like an hour, and then remembered something I'd written down a few months ago after reading Alan Watt's excellent book on finding your way through uncertain times.  

If a problem can be solved at all, to understand it, and to know what to do about it are the same thing.  On the other hand, doing something about a problem that you do not understand is like trying to clear the darkness by thrusting it aside with your hands.  When light is brought, the darkness vanishes at once. 

I realized that what I was lacking was an understanding of the problems I had in front of me.  Each of those problems... all of the tasks.... everything that was overwhelming me was part of a bigger picture.  

In other words, all of those things I was dreading were intricately connected to greater purposes.  Working to resolve them meant I was working toward peace and wholeness for myself and my family... for my church and community... and even the world. 

Watt's quote affirms that as taxing as it might be to tackle problems, engage in tasks, and take on challenges, it's all mitigated by simply understanding them as part of the work that must be done in order to flourish, find hope and forge a path forward.  

And this realization brings light to the darkness, and when there is light---the darkness can't stick around.  If that sounds familiar to some of you---it comes straight out of the first few verses of the first chapter of John's Gospel.  

There are a lot of problems to be solved in our world to be sure.  But maybe the problems that you are struggling the most with are the ones in your own life.  If so, try seeing how they are connected to greater purposes.  Work to understand them more fully as a step toward wholeness and hope.  

And then start shining some light on all of it.  

If we can begin to do this well with ourselves, it stands to reason that we can turn this same light-bearing work to the bigger problems of our day.  Understanding will lead us to deeper resolve and resolve can guard us against despair if we are courageous enough to embrace it. 

May it be so for all of us today and every day.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.  


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