I confess: I am addicted to trying to fix problems!
When I encounter unexpected difficulties, or I see those I love facing troubles, I quickly try to make things better. However, we must be careful with quick fixes to unexpected problems.
Wheat and Weeds
Jesus described the Kingdom of God by telling a story about wheat and weeds growing together in the same field (Matthew 13:24-30). A farmer sowed good wheat seed in his field. However, in the middle of the night, under darkness, an enemy sneaked in and sowed bad weed seeds among the wheat.
After some time passed, the seeds started to grow. However, something was wrong, and panic occurred. The servants ran to the farmer when they saw the wheat mixed with weeds. The workers immediately sought permission to go to the fields and tear up all the weeds.
The wise farmer responded to the servants’ proposal with a resounding “No!” He explained that if they pulled the weeds, some of the wheat would accidentally be uprooted also. The farmer instructed them: “Let both grow together until the harvest” (Matthew 13:30) and then let the reapers separate the wheat from the weeds.
One of the key truths of this parable is that believers and unbelievers live in the world together; nevertheless, a future judgment is coming when the two will be separated. However, something else in the parable also jumps out at me that illustrates how I typically respond to unexpected problems.
One morning the workers awoke to an unexpected problem – weeds! Weeds had grown up in the fields.
I can relate to how the servants reacted. They wanted to resolve the problem immediately with a quick fix. The servants desired to get rid of the problem right away.
However, the farmer warned them that their proposed solution to the problem would actually do greater harm.
Encountering Unexpected Problems
How do you react to unexpected problems? Everything seems to be going great, but then something happens; something unexpected takes place.
- A new challenge comes out of nowhere. Maybe it’s an unanticipated financial challenge – you wake up with a tooth hurting, you get out of your car at Starbucks and notice a burning smell coming from under your hood, or you get a notification from your bank that your account is overdrawn.
- Something hurtful takes place in your life. A close friend or family member doesn’t respond lovingly. Someone looks at you wrong. A person says or does something that crushes your heart.
- You encounter frustrations. An event occurs that derails your carefully thought out plans. What you were expecting to happen, doesn’t take place.
- Fear attacks you. You’re suddenly placed in a situation that stirs up worry and anxiety in you. Something or somebody pushes you out of your comfort zones. Your heart becomes worried and you feel a sense of hopelessness.
- An unforeseen crisis runs over you. The news that you hoped you would never hear happens. You experience deep pain and loss.
Quick Fixes Can Backfire!
As I stated above, I am addicted to trying to fix things. Maybe it is the dark side of being an achiever (my top StrengthFinder result). I can relate to the servants in Jesus’ story. I want to pull the weeds. They don’t belong there so rip those suckers out! I want to solve whatever the problem is right now.
Can you relate? You get desperate. You want to do something. You want to yank up the weeds. You start thinking to yourself, “I need to do this, and this, and this!” We want to quickly fix our problems, frustrations, and challenges.
However, I have learned (the hard way) the warning the farmer gives to his servants: Quick fixes can easily increase damage.
Our immediate reactions can make the situation worse. I could share countless examples of how I have immediately inserted myself into a situation to fix it, and the circumstances actually became worse.
How To Respond To The Unexpected
So how do we respond to the things that shock and blindside us that seemingly come out of nowhere? Here are a few things I am learning from Jesus in my journey:
1. Be still and wait on God (Psalms 37:7)
We want restoration and peace. However, we can only achieve those through the ways of God. Notice in the parable, the first response of the farmer to the servants’ request to take quick action was, “Leave it alone. Just wait.”
Rather than attempting a quick fix, we need to “leave it alone” for a season as we turn to God first. That could be a quick prayer, or it might mean going into the secret place and spending some good quality time with Jesus. We need to be still in the presence of God and let His peace calm the inner storms before we respond to the unexpected.
2. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5)
I have personally discovered that the best answer to a situation is usually not the first solution I think of.
Again, we need to calm our emotions and let the peace of God fill us. Instead of reacting out of frustration, hurt, anger, or fear, we want to respond out of the peace and wisdom of God. Ask Jesus what he wants you to to do concerning the unexpected situation.
3. Ask God to fill you with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:8)
When I look back on many of my initial quick fixes, most of them resemble my flesh instead of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Rather than being controlled by emotions, let’s be filled and led by the Holy Spirit. The way we respond will involve our emotions. However, we want our emotions to be led by the Holy Spirit rather than letting our emotions direct us.
4. Seek a Kingdom perspective (Colossians 3:2)
Don’t interpret what is happening to you from your limited, human perspective. View it from a heavenly perspective. Ask God to help you see it through the eyes of Jesus.
5. Respond in a way that will glorify God (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Make it your goal that your response to the unexpected will bring glory to God and please him.