It’s a difficult realization, but so incredibly liberating… “I have No problems.” I’ve been saying it to myself over the last 5 months, as everything around me seems to be falling apart at times. “I have no problems.” Of course, the other truth is I could list three pages of things I’ve “counted” as my problems—from trying to keep things together while Kathy’s been in Houston almost 5 months as my father-in-law battles brain cancer and non-stop complications, to caring for my mom who’s slowly dying in hospice, to the daily challenges of leading a church, to so much coming at me I’ve had no time to blog, and on and on. “But I have no problems.”
Jesus! If we really take Him at His word, we can actually live “problem free.” “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27). If I wasn’t sure what I was going to eat—I’d feel like I had problems. Wouldn’t you? Yet Jesus seems to be saying, “You have no problems if you have a Father in Heaven.” If I had no clothes (or no extra clothes), I’d feel like I had problems. Yet Jesus says, “You don’t need to worry about these things—you have no problems—because God’s got you.”
But is that a healthy way to live, or is it shirking responsibility? That’s what I used to think. That if I didn’t “own” all my “responsibilities” (many of which became my problems), then I wasn’t taking responsibility for the things I needed to own. But which responsibilities am I supposed to own—not according to the voices in my head that stir me up into a frenzy of anxiety—but according to God, who is a good parent to us kids? That’s the real problem, we get confused.
If you have a kid, you want that kid to grow up and take responsibility for his life—right!? But what if as a five-year-old, he’s worried every day that he’s not gonna eat? That’s not his responsibility—that’s yours. You wouldn’t want him to own that problem—if he did, you’d feel like something about his relationship with you was off. Are you not a good parent? Or what if he worried that world war three might break out and you’d all be homeless? It might, but he can’t control that, and you wouldn’t want his little heart burdened by a problem he could never solve. You want your child to be responsible—obey you, pick up, share his toys—but you don’t want him to take on your problems or the world’s problems. What if God feels the same about us?
Maybe we feel like we have so many problems because we’re taking on problems that God never meant for us to shoulder. In fact, I’ve become convinced this is my problem—I take on other people’s problems, the world’s problems, even God’s problems, but I don’t have to. Jesus goes on to say: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31-33).
See, the real problem is that we don’t take on the One Thing we are responsible for—first, above and before all else, seeking His will and ways! That’s the One Thing we are given responsibility over—deciding each day, every moment, whether to seek God and consider what He wants us to do in that moment. If we do that, we WILL do the things God created us to do—we will be responsible for the right things. And, we can let go of the anxiety and worry and stress of trying to run the parts of the Universe we’re not responsible to run. Jesus said it this way, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). We do have responsibilities each day, but Jesus wants to teach us the Unburdened Way of life—doing the things we are responsible for, and trusting a sovereign God who loves us to handle the rest.
Not Trouble Free, Problem Free
My problems come from failing to “seek His will first” and then taking on problems He never intended me to solve. Now, this doesn’t mean life will be trouble free. “In this world, you will have trouble,” Jesus promised, “But take heart! I’ve overcome the world” (John 16:33). We can be responsible for the right things each day, overcome all the troubles, and even avoid all the problems—by walking moment-by-moment in obedience to the One who has all our problems solved already. The story ends well. So say it, “I have no problems!”