I had a two hour conversation with a not so run-of-the-mill homeless man this week. As he spoke about his life he made this statement, "Problems are messages."

Think about it.

A health problem — even a minor one — is a message that you're not taking proper care of yourself. A financial problem is a hint that you're not managing well the resources God has given you, or that you're not properly prepared for the inevitable rainy days of life. Tension in a relationship tells you that, perhaps, you're being too demanding, or too selfish, or too insensitive in this moment.

Problems are often messages from God. The good Lord uses them to shine light on the things we are doing in conflict with his Word, things which hurt ourselves and hurt others.

However, problems are more than just messages. You can also consider each problem to be an implied assignment from God. When difficulties get in your way, you can be sure that God is challenging you to do something about it.

A lot of folks respond to problems by shifting more of the responsibility on those around them: "What's wrong with you? Why can't you change yourself for me? Why won't somebody fix this situation for me?"

God's people, Christ-followers, should respond to problems with the question: "What can I do?" What can I do differently? What can I do to make things better? What can I do to make me better? What can I do TODAY?

Think back to God’s man, Nehemiah. This Jewish refugee had landed on his feet, so to speak, in Babylon. He could have continued living in the king's palace; it was the life of a slave, true, but it was also a life of relative comfort. It was a safe life.

Instead, when he heard about the desolation of Israel, he fell to his knees and asked, "Lord, what can I do?" It moved him from a safe life to a life of service. The prayer in Nehemiah 1:5-10 reflects his attitude of repentance and his resolve to make a difference. He identified what he needed to change about himself, and what he needed to do to change the situation.

What problem is picking at you today? Examine it closely. Unwrap it. There's a message inside, a message that will take you in the direction of your next assignment.


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