By David Jeremiah, Pastor, Shadow Mountain Community Church, El Cajon, Calif.
EL CAJON, Calif. (BP) – “Houston, we have a problem.”
When NASA flight directors heard those words from Apollo 13, it was like an invitation: “You are hereby invited to solve a life-or-death problem” – and they did. Flight director Gene Kranz sprang into action: “Okay … stay cool. Work the problem, people…. Failure is not an option!” (Excerpt from the movie, “Apollo 13.”)
Work the problem! With no heat, no light and little communication with the ground, the astronauts drifted back toward earth in darkness – helpless.
Work the problem! Ground engineers had to conserve enough power to fire the engines and direct them safely into the earth’s atmosphere. And they did!
Lost in space
Ever felt lost in space, drifting along, helpless, wondering if even God is stumped by your situation? We know God can solve problems, but in your darkest moments you wonder if He is even working on it.
Friend, He is!
Look at the Apollo 13 situation in a split-screen format: three astronauts on the left screen huddled in their freezing spacecraft, speaking little to conserve energy, fighting to stay awake, with only a flashlight – dark, cold, silent. On the right side of the screen, just the opposite, a beehive of brightly-lit problem-solving is taking place.
Given instructions that a plan was in the works, the astronauts had to be patient. They couldn’t work the problem, so they had to believe someone else could.
That’s exactly what we as Christians have to do when we have a problem with no solution in sight.
We can’t work it but we have to believe that God can –and He is working on our behalf.
Problem solving in the image of God
Sometimes, using the gifts and abilities God gives us, we can solve serious problems, as in the Apollo 13 mission.
But other times, we have to call upon God. When we are stretched beyond our human limits, we find ourselves in His limitless domain. He welcomes our cries and loves to provide solutions.
When asking God to help us solve problems, we have to remember that His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). God provided “surprise solutions” to people facing problems in the Bible:
n Big problem, small solution. The Israelite army had a giant problem named Goliath. God’s solution was a teenager about 3 feet shorter. No armor or sword, but David had giant faith: “The Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:47). Sometimes God’s solutions are smaller than our problems in order to create faith in us.
n Physical problem, spiritual solution. Hindered in ministry by a physical problem, the apostle Paul called out to God three times for healing. Instead of bringing a physical one, God brought a spiritual one: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God may allow a problem to be its own solution when it forces us to rely more on God for grace to endure.
n Personal problem, corporate solution. When Paul was journeying toward Jerusalem to deliver relief monies to the church, he was well aware of the danger from opponents of the Gospel. He shared his personal problem with the church at Rome, asking them to pray for his safety: “I beg you, brethren … that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe” (Romans 15:30-31). God may want to use others to be a partial or total solution to your problem – but you have to ask.
The Bible, church history and hopefully your life are filled with examples of how God has solved problems His way, in His time, according to His purposes.
There is no problem too big for God. Be encouraged as you trust Him to get involved in whatever problem you are facing today.