Christianity is not the subtraction of problems; it is the addition of power to overcome problems.
Do you have any problems?
You do? Well, congratulations! Because, as Christians, we have a relationship with God that gives us insight, wisdom, and power to see an opportunity in every difficulty!
As we explore this topic, I want us to look at the life of Nehemiah who, despite towering problems that could have overwhelmed most people, became a towering man of faith.
The Need to Visualize
Nehemiah was a Jewish exile serving King Artaxerxes and one day Nehemiah met with some of his Jewish brethren who had recently returned from Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 1:1-3). He was eager for news, so he asked them, "What has happened to the city of God. Tell me so I can visualize it."
As Nehemiah's brethren described the desolation of the walls, he saw this sad picture in his mind and heart, and he wept. Why? Because the walls were not only literal, they were also symbolic of the protection of God over His people.
In response, Nehemiah could have said, "Stop. Don't say another word. I don't want to know the truth. Just let me picture Jerusalem the way I remember it." But, what would have happened if he had said this? We don't know for sure, but if he had refused to see the problem, I suspect Nehemiah would never have become the great wall builder.
The Need to Agonize
In Nehemiah 1:4 we are told, "And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven."
What kind of a prayer did Nehemiah offer? First, it was a prayer of contrition. Nehemiah wept salty tears over the condition of Jerusalem. When was the last time you spent a night in prayer? When was the last time you shed a tear over some soul that was mortgaged to the devil?
Not only was Nehemiah's prayer one of contrition, it was also a prayer of confession (see Nehemiah 1:6). His prayer was for both national and personal sins. Nehemiah said, "Israel has sinned and I have sinned." If we don't repent, we are part of the problem.
Third, Nehemiah's prayer was a prayer of confidence (see Nehemiah 1:8-10). Nehemiah reminded God of what He said in His Word. Real prayer is finding a promise in the Word of God and standing on it.
Nehemiah also prayed a prayer of commitment (see Nehemiah 1:11). As he prayed, Nehemiah felt God calling him to get involved. He asked God to bless him as he committed himself to do whatever it took to accomplish the task.
Too many of us don't want to leave our secure comfort zones. Instead, we want God to turn our problems into possibilities while we sit by and watch Him work. Friend, our problems will remain problems as long as we refuse to commit to whatever God asks us to do.
The Need to Organize
It had been four months since Nehemiah had received the bad report about Jerusalem. When King Artaxerxes saw that Nehemiah's countenance had become saddened, he asked Nehemiah what he wanted (see Nehemiah 2:1-4). Nehemiah offered a quick prayer to God for courage he needed to ask King Artaxerxes for three things.
First, Nehemiah asked for the king's permission (see Nehemiah 2:5). Before we do anything in the name of Jesus, we must get His permission. It is as dangerous to run ahead of God as it is to run behind Him.
Second, Nehemiah asked for the king's protection (see Nehemiah 2:7). He knew that along the way to Jerusalem, the authorities would question his trave. He needed letters of authority to show these authorities that King Artaxerxes had sent him.
Third, Nehemiah wanted the king's provision (see Nehemiah 2:8). He needed building materials, so he asked for them. And because King Artaxerxes was a tool in the hand of the King of kings, Nehemiah got his supplies.
Your Great Possibility
What does the example of Nehemiah mean to you today? No matter your hurt, God can turn it into a hallelujah. He can turn every tear into a pearl and every dark night into a sunrise. Christianity is not the subtraction of problems; it is the addition of power to overcome the problems.
May God help you to see the possibilities for great exploits in your problems!