Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the tag “problems”

ISSUES EXIST…LOVE ENDURES

I have issues. It bugs me when people stand really close to me. I don’t like people messing with my hair. It drives me crazy when, in an empty public restroom with a dozen open stalls, the next person in chooses the stall right next to me.

Like I said…I have issues.

I have bigger issues than the ones I mentioned above, however. I’m stubborn—and it’s not easy to overcome. I’m arrogant—and it’s a daily battle within me to keep my ego in check. I don’t have a stellar bank account or the perfect marriage. And my kids are on pace to be every bit as flawed as their mother. Oh joy!

Like I said…I have issues. I’m not proud of them. I’m not flaunting them. I wish I didn’t have them. But the truth is I struggle with them just like you struggle with yours.

Everybody has issues.

Your friend has issues. She’s insecure as all get out. Your spouse has issues. He/she is arrogant, insensitive, and controlling. Your co-worker has issues. She’s overbearing and doesn’t let you get a word in edgewise. Your neighbor has issues. He lies constantly. You wonder why he feels the need to do that. The lady in your bible study has issues. She’s got a root of bitterness bigger than Dallas, but hides it as best she can. Your nephew has issues. He’s into pornography, but doesn’t see the harm in it.

Everybody has issues. And issues present us with an interesting enigma.

The question is, can you see past my issues? Can you overlook your co-worker’s issues? Can you embrace your neighbor despite his issues? Can you be kind to the lady in your bible study regardless of her issues? Can you get along with your friend even though she has issues?

Here’s what I have found to be true in this interesting enigma: issues exist…but love endures. At least a Christ-like love does.

Issues Exist Love EnduresJesus loved His disciples—all quirky, ill-equipped and flawed twelve of them. I don’t know if that was easy for Him or not. My guess is He wore thin of patience with a few every now and then because you know what? They had issues. Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Maybe they were easier to love than His disciples. But Martha certainly had issues, and Jesus brought those into light.

Jesus also loved the rich young man who ended up walking away from Him—materially wealthy, but eternally bankrupt. Ouch!

Jesus had compassion on all sorts of people who had all sorts of issues. He hung out with sinful people. He touched “unclean” people. He embraced the ones who were far from perfect. He did life with people who were self-absorbed, broken, messed up, whacked out, and didn’t buy what Jesus was selling.

They had issues. They had struggles. They had challenges. They had problems. They had difficulties. Their lives were not pretty little packages wrapped up with pretty little bows. And truth be told, neither are ours.

Can we have compassion like Jesus did on others who have issues? Can we hang out with people like Jesus did who are far from perfect? Can we do life with people like Jesus did who have hang-ups, problems, and struggles? Can we embrace people like Jesus did who don’t even acknowledge Jesus?

Can we love like Jesus? Regardless…in spite of…even though…
Issues exist. Love endures.
Go love like Jesus!

 

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JESUS, WHERE’S WALDO, & PROBLEM SOLVING

About 15 years ago or so, the Kansas City Star used to put Where’s Waldo in the lineup of comic strips in their Sunday edition. Back in the day, we spent lots of Sundays with my folks who took the paper faithfully. I remember Sunday after Sunday, lying on the family room floor, poring over each comic strip with an occasional grin or chuckle. But one of my favorite parts of the funny papers was Where’s Waldo. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s one of those seek-and-find type things. Waldo is a kinda geeky looking guy with a red and white striped shirt, round glasses, wacky brown hair, and a red and white stocking cap. Where's WaldoEach cartoon features Waldo tucked away in some crazy, action-packed scene. And your job is to find him. I usually couldn’t. I’d spend a good 5-10 minutes searching for the guy, but wasn’t very successful. Then my oldest son, who was about 4 or 5 at the time, would come scrunch down beside me, and within 30 seconds would say, “There he is, momma!” I thought it was coincidence at first. But week after week, I’d search high and low, studying the scene with a careful eye, trying to find Waldo. I’d find someone who closely resembled Waldo, but not Waldo. Then like I said, Caleb would swoop in, and find him in a heartbeat without even trying.

Sometimes I think solutions to our problems are like this. We search high and low, in what feels like some crazy, action-packed scene. We look the scene (aka our problem) up one side and down the other and just can’t seem to find the solution. For us it’s sometimes grueling and clouded by seeing the same reality over and over again. Someone else, however, can take a look at the same reality and see the solution quickly. They can come in with a different perspective—one that’s not emotionally charged—and see the solution.

But here’s the thing…we don’t like those people. Even though they can see clearly what we should do, we don’t listen to their advice. We brush away their wisdom. It’s a pride thing in us. We have trouble admitting the fact that we have weaknesses and need help. There are times when we should seek out wisdom, help, advice, or counsel from others, but instead we just insist on trying harder ourselves.

You remember the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead? When He stood at the entrance of the tomb and hollered for Lazarus to come out, scripture records that “the dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face” (John 11:44a).

Why did Jesus do that? Why didn’t Jesus bring Lazarus out all clean and fresh to put a further exclamation point on this miracle? Why did Jesus have Lazarus come out of the tomb all “mummified” like that?

The very next thing Jesus said to those close by was, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go (John 11:44b).” That’s why. Jesus asked whoever was near the tomb to help Lazarus take off what bound him. You see, Jesus knew we needed each other. Jesus knew the value of others stepping in to help, to unbind us, to be hands-on in setting us free from our problems.

If you can’t find Waldo, you might ask Caleb to help you.

If you can’t find the solution to your problem, however, you just might consider the Jesus method—of asking those nearby to help unbind you.

WHY JESUS IS NOT THE SOLUTION TO YOUR PROBLEMS

When I was in middle school my mom invited my band teacher over for dinner. Although I liked my band teacher, this is embarrassment and awkwardness times 10 to a kid. As the night progressed, somehow it came up in conversation that she had something broken on her car. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but seemed like it was a bumper or headlight issue. So my mom, genius of all geniuses, suggested using duck tape to fix the problem. (Insert even more embarrassment by the mere thought of suggesting duck tape to be the solution to her problem.)

But sure enough, my parents and my band teacher went outside, duck tape in hand, and “fixed” her car problem.

Interesting what we use to “fix” our problems, isn’t it? If only there was a duck tape for life’s big issues, right?

People in ancient times didn’t know anything about duck tape. Bless ‘em. But not unlike us, I think what people hoped for in Jesus’ day was a solution to their problems. And to be honest, Jesus certainly showed promise as He challenged authority, healed people, fed folks, and caused the world to think upside down and inside out.

Could He be? Might He be the solution?

Did He fix their problems? Did He wipe out all their struggles? No. Jesus simply came into the world, sank deep into the muck of all its brokenness, and took it all onto Himself.

John Updike, author of More Matter, wrote “…men and women are radically imperfect and radically valuable.” Jesus, more than anyone else, knew this about people. And that’s why He came.

I don’t think Jesus came to fix your problems. He said Himself, “In this world you will have trouble…” Nor do I think He’s the solution to your troubles.

Jesus is not your duck tapeJesus came to know you. To do life with you. To love you even though you are “radically imperfect.” Jesus came not to offer solutions, but to offer salvation. Salvation is a bigger deal than solutions.

You are radically imperfect.

You are radically valuable.

And Jesus is not your duck tape.

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