The True Solution to Every Problem
By LESLIE LUDY
When I was twenty-two, I went through an incredibly mortifying experience. A pastor called me on the phone and accused me of “publicly dishonoring my husband.” Eric and I had been married for about four years, and had a loving, God-centered relationship, built upon honor and trust. I had never intentionally dishonored my husband, let alone publicly.
The pastor had jumped to this conclusion about me because he’d misread a situation that had happened while Eric and I were speaking at his church. It was toward the end of our event, right at the moment when background music was supposed to begin. But something went wrong and the music never started. On stage, Eric and I briefly discussed whether I should play the piano to provide some background music, or hand out roses to some of the young women in the audience, which had been the original plan. There was nothing tense or awkward about the conversation. But the pastor — sitting at the very back of the church — seemed to believe there was. Somehow his perception of that brief discussion between Eric and me was that my husband had told me to do something and I had flat-out refused in front of everyone.
We had no idea that the pastor had any concerns about us or our marriage. But almost a year later, he called to “confront” me about my “disrespectful behavior.” Even though Eric defended me and tried to explain what had really happened, the pastor remained staunch in his position that I was not a good wife and I had serious problems that needed to be addressed.
At twenty-two, I was emotionally knocked off my feet by this blow. For the next few weeks and months, a feeling of depression began to settle over me. Whenever we would speak publicly, I constantly wondered who was going to misunderstand or criticize me next. Immediately after each speaking event, I would retreat to the seclusion of my hotel room.
To make matters worse, the situation with the misguided pastor wasn’t the only difficulty that hit me during that season. Critical letters and emails were sent to me on a fairly regular basis. Even though I also got plenty of encouraging feedback, just one accusatory letter was enough to send me spiraling downward emotionally. In addition, Eric and I began to experience financial struggles. We were often taken advantage of by people in the church. Our bank account began to suffer. Our car broke down. Our computers crashed beyond repair. My health began to be affected because of the stress in our life.
In short, I had walked straight into a spiritual battle that I was completely unready for.
I sought answers anywhere I could find them. I read self-help books on how to overcome fear and depression. I took special supplements and even some medication from time to time. I began going to counseling. But nothing seemed to lift the gloom and worry from my soul.
Finally one day, I went to Jesus and began laying my cares at His nail-scarred feet. During all the time I’d been walking through these trials, it had never occurred to me that the solution to all my issues and problems might really be as simple as that. I hadn’t really believed that “Christ Crucified” was the ultimate answer I needed. Why? Because I thought I had “special” problems that needed “special” treatment. My issues were complicated, so I assumed I needed a complicated solution to them. The Cross of Christ just seemed too simple for all that I was dealing with.
Besides, it didn’t feel very exciting to simply take my cares to Jesus’ feet. I would much rather be coddled, sympathized with, and treated delicately by caring friends and professionals. As much as I didn’t like to admit it, there was something rather appealing about garnering pity and special treatment from other people as they tried to help me work through my “issues.” I enjoyed hearing “Poor you!” but I wasn’t as excited about hearing, “Take your cares to Jesus — He will give everything you need!”
It was only when human sympathy and advice fell short that I became desperate enough to take my problems to Jesus. What I discovered was nothing short of amazing. When I finally began to acknowledge that He was truly the answer to every problem I could ever face, my life began to turn around for the first time in years.
I began to really learn, for the first time in my life, what it meant to “cast my cares” upon Him and rely on His grace to do the impossible — like finding joy in the midst of trials, strength in the midst of weakness, and peace in the midst of chaos. He became, in reality, my Wonderful Counselor, my Prince of Peace, and my All in all. No human sympathy or wisdom could ever compare to what I found in Him. In Him, I finally gained the ability to walk through my difficult circumstances with victory and hope instead of depression and despair.
Now don’t get me wrong. Leaning on the Body of Christ for comfort and perspective can be a wonderful gift and help when we are struggling. But human comfort and wisdom should only be a tool that points us toward the true solution to every problem: Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.
The Answer to “Special Circumstances”
Jackie Pullinger, a long-time missionary to Hong Kong, once spoke about sharing the Gospel with a woman who had been a prostitute for more than forty years. She had been rejected, abused, and mistreated in nearly every way imaginable. If anyone would seem to have “special circumstances” it would be a woman like this. Yet, it wasn’t coddling, sympathy, or psychological principles that delivered this woman from despair and changed her from the inside out. It was the undiluted message of the Cross. It was the transforming power of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. She became a new creature in Christ, and, as Jackie described it, “she had all her life again.”
It’s easy to believe that we have “special circumstances” because of specific things we have been through, and that consequently the Gospel can’t truly be applied to our lives in all its fullness and power. We assume that if we’ve been through extreme difficulty or disappointment, we are entitled to a “special version” of truth, perhaps seasoned with a few sympathetic words such as, “Don’t worry, God knows your situation is unique. You can’t be expected to apply biblical truth to your life the way others do! It’s totally reasonable for you to remain defeated and downtrodden after all you’ve been through!”
But when we play the “special circumstances” card, we are creating a makeshift excuse to not take Jesus Christ at His Word. There is no situation that the power of the Cross cannot permeate and transform, and there is no wound that His cleansing blood cannot heal. In fact, the more extreme the circumstances, the more opportunity for His supernatural grace to be demonstrated in all its life-changing power.
Throughout Christian history, the Gospel has spread like wildfire whenever the most destitute and notorious people have been radically changed by its power. In all the great revivals, people were drawn to the Gospel when they saw alcoholics forsake their addictions and prostitutes begin to live in purity.
If the message of the Cross can offer such freedom and triumph for people like this, can it not do the same for us?
Through the years I have realized that it has not been the times when things have been easy that I have felt the most impact of God’s truth in my life, but when things have been the most difficult. I have experienced the victory that comes when I cling to the Cross and allow His divine power to give me strength far beyond any strength I could ever find within myself. That doesn’t mean that every day is filled with sunshine and roses. There are times when I must wrestle through the tears, the hurt, the confusion, and the fear until I finally “breakthrough” to a clear, truth-filled perspective. But when I wrestle for it, it always comes.
As Mrs. Charles B. Cowman pointed out, “Faith has nothing to do with circumstances. It deals entirely with the Word of God.”
As you are contemplating the set apart life that God has called you to, beware of an attitude that says, “But my situation is different. I can’t experience that kind of joy and freedom because…”
Even if you don’t sense an immediate victory in the midst of your difficult circumstances, that doesn’t mean God isn’t intending to give it to you. Continue to pursue His promises until they have become reality in your daily life. And remember — while God may sometimes choose to provide clearer perspective through the insights of other people, counseling, books, etc. — be sure that He is always your first turn.
No matter what you are going through, don’t seek human coddling. Rather, seek the transforming power of His Cross. And soon you will be able to confidently declare along with Paul, “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14a).