– Rick Warren
Did you know that every problem functions as a purpose for God? Here are four ways in which that works.
They Inspect Us
When we run into problems that only God can solve, they humble us and bring us to our knees, but this is our rightful position anyway before the mighty God. Peter writes, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Pet. 5:6). Peter likely learned this teaching from Jesus, Who said, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). He sometimes sends or allows problems to humble us when we get too full of ourselves. Either we will humble ourselves before God or He will do it for us, and guess which one is more painful.
They Perfect Us
Proverbs 20:30 shows how God uses problems in our lives to help us in our growing in holiness, as it says, “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts.” Problems and trials can be used for our directing and our reflecting but surely our perfecting, as they “cleanse away evil” and “make clean the innermost parts,” which might mean they drive us to repentance and confession of whatever we were doing that we ought not to have been doing.
They Correct Us
Just as we discipline a child out of love, so too does God, but He is so much better at it than we are. The author of Hebrews writes, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb. 12:6). “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19). Aha! That’s it! He disciplines us because He loves us and desires we repent, as we say with child rearing, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away” (Prov. 22:15).
They Direct Us
Our problems can act as a compass, directing us in the way we should go. Jesus, in rebuking the church, said, “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place” (Rev. 2:5), which shows that the church at Ephesus had fallen and Jesus wanted them to repent. In His rebuke of them, He was directing them to repentance.
There are trials of perfection, trials of direction, trials of inspection, trials of reflection, trials of correction, and so much more, but God always allows these problems to work for His good purposes, as Paul wrote in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”