Handling Problems Successfully

Some treat problems as if they are at war.

The battle is set between them and the opposite side, words are about to fly, a challenge is about to flung, slings and arrows are about to do their deadly work.

Everything is ready to tackle the situation…

But problems are problematic.

Each problem demands different results, hence, the tools used to solve them are probably as different as night is from day. How we handle problems may take a circuitous route, and cause extra steps in the process. You know, to fix a problem may require some un-fixing first.

Last night I heard my bride say, “I’ve been collecting the wrong thing.” as she played a game on her iPad… Sometimes we miss the right step because we fail to properly identify the need.

Still, the biggest problem we often face is finding the right tool, for the right job. You know the old saying, “To a hammer, every problem is a nail.” This was first stated in 1966 by Abraham Maslow and as been given a number of names and titles, but the one I like the best is the concept known as “The Law of the Instrument“.

My Craftsman Toolbox – Circa 1970

Every instrument and tool was designed and created for a specific purpose. Some have multiple uses, while others are for a singular use. This is why we know that a good mechanics toolbox has many tools, unique and specific for the job to be completed successfully. Carpenters may have 4 or 5 hammers. Different lengths. Different size heads. Different size claws.

Eventually, the toolbox grows in size and number to handle all the potential tools needed for a situation.

This is my original toolbox I received for Christmas before I ever owned a car. It was full of Craftsman tools, to which I most likely still own. I’ve not taken an accounting in a long, long time.

This applies to every single career, job, or hint of problem you face in life. You never have just one tool to handle all the problems you encounter. When we face challenges, we rummage around our arsenal and find the correct way to respond. Right?

Let me share a thought with you regarding a familiar biblical story. David and Goliath, found in 1 Samuel 17.

The Problem

David, the youngest of a passel of brothers, and a keeper of the sheep for the family, went to the battlefield to take food to his brothers. He hears the challenge of Goliath and is amazed that there is no champion among the army of Israel to stand up to the problem. “Have you not seen him?” they ask of David when he makes inquiry. “He’s huge!” David drove to the heart of the problem. It was not the giant. It was not the battle. It was not even the fear… “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God?” They serve a dead god. We serve a Living God. The problem was simply their giant was making Israel forget who they had on their side!

The real problem is correctly identifying the problem!

A Probable Solution

“King Saul, I have killed a lion and a bear. This giant is nothing! I will fight him! He is nothing more than the wild animal I have already killed!” spouts David.  His response? “You are a youth. He is a man of war from his youth.”  Finally, Saul puts his own armament on David, but it is refused as not appropriate for the engagement. David is too small. King Saul was a head and shoulder above everyone else, so, let’s not use what we have never used in our life.

This is an important aspect. Unless you are trained to use a variety of options, something new may not make sense at the time.

The Real Solution

David took his staff, and sling, and chose 5 stones from the brook. The regular tools of his trade.  He hears the challenge of Goliath, and the words that would surely cause David to quake from fear. But David defies him with the only words that matter. “You come with your armament. But I come in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” He kept the identified problem in front of him and was not dissuaded from the proper approach.

Sometimes, you only need to realize the problem has nothing to do with size or equipment that challenges you. If God is on your side, who can be against you? (Romans 8:31) Keep your focus on the real problem. Not the false problem.

The Outcome

David charged the problem. He hurried and ran, says one translation. Goliath was not prepared for the fleetness. As David ran, he put a stone in his sling and slung it. Goliath, critically wounded from a blow to his forehead, falls to the ground. Defeated. Dead. David uses Goliath’s own weapons to finish off the win!

Sometimes we overwhelm ourselves with the problem in front of us with the outcome that is probable from our viewpoint. But God always has a different outcome.

Here’s a thought for you today: Take a moment from your fighting against the problem you see. Truly analyze the problem and keep it in proper perspective. Map out some steps to handle the problem, grabbing the correct tool required to fight the problem. Trust in the outcome that you have not yet seen.

That’s the Faith of the moment. If you fail in the attempt, then be like Micah’s statement as a minor prophet in the Old Testament.

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy;
When I fall, I will arise;
When I sit in darkness,
The LORD will be a light to me.
(Micah 7:8 NKJV)

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