The Problem isn’t Really the Problem
Sissy and Bubba were neighbors growing up. With names like Sissy and Bubba they were automatically drawn to each other. They helped each other beat up other kids who liked to make fun of their names. They got along well right from the start. They got married young and never looked back. They had their share of troubles, joys, blessings, and even a few things that seemed like a curse. Through everything Sissy and Bubba did love each other, but they also faced problems in the relationship. If God hadn’t pulled them through they would have probably wound up in divorce court. It was especially hard the years they had the sets of twins. The second year of their marriage the twin boys were born. Bubba Junior and Bubba Ray were definitely a handful. Two years later Little Sissy and Missy were born. Their six additional children were born one at a time like clockwork every two year. These children were named after other family members like Uncle Jeremiah, Aunt Dorcas, Cousin Tuti-Fruitie, and so on. On their twenty-fifth anniversary they looked at their children and thanked God for a good life.
BUT, they were noticing some problems in their marriage. Bubba was tired. Working to support a wife and ten kids was definitely a full time job. Money was tight and Bubba just wasn’t convinced that Sissy was managing the money quite as well as she could. He was definitely too busy to take over the bill paying and money management, but he was happy to point out areas where he thought Sissy was not performing to his expectation. Retirement was a long way off, but he thought there should be at least a tiny retirement account set up. He hadn’t had a new truck in over fifteen years, and he was not fond of that fifteen passenger van Sissy drove everywhere. He wanted a better job, but he had turned down jobs that were potentially better because they would cut into his family time. He felt like life was passing him by and that somehow Sissy was somehow responsible for their lack of wealth. She was also probably responsible for the fact that they were living their lives stuck in a rut. Of course he loved her, but the burden of what wasn’t going right in their lives was definitely on her shoulders.
Sissy was also tired. She had given up the idea of being a ‘super mom’ when Bubba Junior and Bubba Ray were two weeks old. When Little Sissy and Missy were born two years later she had really wished for money to afford a full time housekeeper and cook. She loved caring for her children, but all that cooking and cleaning was exhausting. By the time baby number ten was born Sissy was pretty much worn to a frazzle. She never did get the cook or the housekeeper. Her wardrobe was always outdated because she seemed to stay the same size. She couldn’t afford to buy new clothes when old clothes were still in good shape, at least not when she was responsible for clothing ten children. True, hand-me-downs helped with the kids clothes, but kids did need some things brand new. But Sissy rose to the occasion. She homeschooled her children, consistently taught them to be responsible for certain things, managed to run the household on a schedule so that meals were on time and clean clothes were available. She also cut their hair, learned to sew like a professional, and took up gardening and canning. She budgeted to make sure all the bills were paid and basic needs were met. But she was really starting to wonder if Bubba was really doing his part. Could he have brought home a better salary if he had tried harder? Did he have to have the new clothes so often even if he did work in an office?
And college was coming up. Bubba felt like Sissy should have been planning for how to send their kids to college from the day the Bubba Jr. and Bubba Ray were born. And there wasn’t one single college fund set up, much less ten. Sissy knew college was coming up and she was at her wits end worrying about it.
The stress was causing Bubba to blame Sissy. Pointed remarks were likely to come up in any conversation. It was definitely Sissy’s fault, and Bubba couldn’t help letting her know about it. Their kids were not going to get higher educations; they would never be high wage earners; and Sissy was just going to have to bear the burden of guilt, because Bubba knew he had personally done everything humanly possible. Bubba kept praying and he kept looking at Sissy to see how she was going to pull a rabbit out of the hat on this one!
The stress was also causing Sissy a lot of concern. She knew her kids were bright. They all loved to learn. They were definitely college material, but how was she going to get them to college? She knew it was going to take money, and they just didn’t have any. And whose fault was that? Bubba’s! Sissy earned a little extra money selling items on ebay, but that was just enough to provide a few extras. And honestly she had never really missed most of the things she and Bubba had given up by having so many kids. She loved her family. She kept praying and she kept looking at Bubba to see how he was going to pay for college.
Then one day Sissy was praying her usual prayer. It went something like this, ‘Oh Lord! Thank you for helping me. Forgive Bubba for being such a lousy provider that our kids can’t go to college unless you intervene. I know you have given him ways to make more money and he just didn’t follow through. NOW my kids are going to suffer for his mistakes. Help Bubba earn more money so the kids can go to college or technical school - which ever they prefer.
Bubba was also praying, Oh LORD! Thank you for helping me. Forgive Sissy for mismanaging our money so badly that our kids are going to be cheated out of college. Help me to forgive her too. I hate being mad at her about this, and I know you want me to forgive her. Maybe she just isn’t too bright and can’t help herself. At least make her wake up and do better with the money I provide..
THEN the guardian angel assigned to Sissy and Bubba had a conniption fit and he prayed, ‘Oh Lord! Has there ever been two such bling lunk-heads in all of time? Can’t they see the real problem is failure to trust you!....
Now – step out of Bubba and Sissy’s life for a few minutes and take a look at your own life. Make a mental list of the top five problems you are facing. Money is probably involved in at least two of your top five difficulties. Hurt feelings are probably involved in the other three.
For the sake of argument let’s agree that your problems are VERY real, and that you have legitimate concerns in every one. To get to the top of your list these problems have probably been with you a long time; you have prayed for solutions consistently, and you have done your best to work through the difficulties. What is wrong? Why hasn’t God moved on your behalf and settled these issues. Why are you still struggling to gain a down payment on a house? Why hasn’t that difficult person moved into another state or at least another county? Why do you have a car that is falling apart along with a marriage that is falling apart? Why did Bubba get the new four-wheeler for Christmas and you only got a cheap pair of hiking boots? Wah! Wah! Wah!
Seriously, I am not taking your troubles lightly. I know life is filled with painful situations that seem to last forever. A Biblical example of people who suffered through horrific trials is the children of Israel who were serving as slaves in Egypt when Moses came to set them free. Well, that sounded good didn’t it? Ah…. Freedom. Let the rejoicing begin. Of course you know the story. The freedom didn’t exactly begin as expected. Through the ten plagues on Egypt God showed His rule over the false gods worshipped in Egypt. What a mess. I mean it must be hard dealing with people who worship frogs, crocodiles, and rivers to say the least. It would have been like dealing with crazy people. And you know that while the Jews came out untouched in every plague there was still a lot of stress involved. It would have been stressful to watch the Egyptians suffer even if they weren’t personally suffering. I’m sure some of them were gloating, but even that would have been stressful. Can you imagine the stress the people felt standing at the edge of the Red Sea and watching Pharaoh’s army approaching?
The Lord parted the Red Sea and the Children of Israel went across on dry land.
The people were seeing the problem of Pharaoh’s army and the Red Sea. It was a very real problem, and they were facing what appeared to be certain annihilation. But that wasn’t the REAL problem. The real problem was unbelief. They didn’t believe God. At least they didn’t believe Him enough to stop them from worrying about escaping the chariots and horses approaching at a rapid pace.
Today, we Christians also see the problems we face with vivid clarity. We pray. We ask God for help. We know that hears our prayers, but we keep on seeing the problem more than we see the infinite power, resources, and love of God Almighty. THAT is our real problem. We let our problems blind us to the help God has for us. And that can cause us to lose out on blessings. An example of this in the Bible is also in found in the people who made the Exodus from Egypt. God delivered them from ten plagues. He made a away across the sea. He took them to the border of the promised land in just a few short days. Twelve spies were sent into the land to check it out and return with a report. Two came back proclaiming the land to be a land that truly was flowing with milk and honey. They knew the land would be theirs because God had promised and God had shown repeatedly that He was able to keep His promises. They were delighted. Ten came back crying that the land was crawling with giants and there was no way they would possess that land. Then the Lord’s patience ran out. He didn’t kill them outright. He let them live the rest of their lives wandering in the wilderness. During that time He fed them manna and didn’t let their clothes wear out, but they were still tent people without a land to call their own. And they could have had it all! But they saw the problem of the inhabitants of the land instead of the solution of God’s help. That is where most people stand today. The problems we face are ever before us. This keeps us from trusting God to help us, and that is our real problem!
God help us to believe Him and trust Him to help us.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
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