No problems, only Opportunities
It was Saturday. A quiet relaxed peaceful Saturday when all was right with the world. We’d slept in (as one is wont to do on a holiday)—and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Now it was time to do something useful. My tech-expert husband said he’d add some disk space to my computer. I was delighted. The door of our family room opened and our son walked in. His eyebrows shot up when he saw Shan busy, at an opened-up computer.
“Is there a problem?”
I smiled. “No problem, son. Only opportunities.”
When I studied Computer Programming many moons ago, one of my lecturers had a favourite catchphrase. “No problems; only opportunities.’ A good way to view life, don’t you think? If only I can always see the world through that kind of lens, I’m sure my life would be much more enjoyable. The trouble is that when a certain kind of opportunity arrives on my doorstep, I often mistake it for a problem.
This year has been brimming over with opportunities, but it’s taken me months to discover it. I’ve been fighting a losing battle with my arch enemy fibromyalgia. No matter what techniques I’ve tried to quell my foe – he’d pop up uninvited and cause mayhem. I've been on the losing side and I didn’t like it. There were times the pain and discomfort have been too much—far more than I could bear. During such days, I’d cry out to God, feeling hopeless, thinking He’d abandoned me. Afterwards though, I was deeply ashamed. I should have trusted God. But … why was life so hard?
Apart from my fibro-battle, I've also been job hunting. What made it extra difficult was the urgency to regain my health in time to commence work. In faith, I’d apply for a job, and then ask God to give me the fitness I needed to do it. Not even one interview has come my way—perhaps it was a blessing because my body hasn’t cooperated. I just couldn't understand it. Why didn’t God at least make my illness bearable? I knew He heard my cries for help. I knew He could heal me in an instant if He chose to. I wanted a miracle fix and I wanted it NOW. That’s how I saw it. Until one beautiful day, my spiritual eyes were opened.
I saw then, that the only way forward was by viewing my battle through God’s eyes, not mine. It was a eureka moment. Desiring overnight success had only brought me discouragement. I invented a battle plan. I resolved to give myself time. I decided to stop applying for jobs until my health improved. That took the pressure off me. I asked a dear friend if she’d be my cheering squad when I was discouraged and she graciously agreed. I changed the name of my bad fibro days to ‘Training Days’.
Training Days? Yes, Training Days. My bad fibro days are perfect days to be trained in godliness. In sacrificial praise because praise at such times is so hard to do. It’s a good time to cultivate a joy that’s not dependent on feelings. A great opportunity to learn empathy for others who like me battle chronic illness on a daily basis. It’s a training in perseverance through life’s hard times; in trusting God when I don’t understand. A time to enjoy the Giver in spite of a lack of His gifts. To learn to love God when life is difficult.
At church the next Sunday, our Pastor repeated the words of a song we’d sung.
“God has not forsaken you’ he said. As his words wrapped themselves around me, my eyes filled with tears. I heard God’s tender whispers within and heaven's music resounded in my ears. No—He had not abandoned me. God reiterated it through a book I was reading - ‘How people grow’ by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend.
“Don’t confuse pain and suffering with the lack of God’s presence” they said. That powerful truth reached the core of my being. Yet another moment of comfort and clarity and I finally understood.
There are times in our lives when we can’t fathom His purposes. But as we wait for Him, we learn many worthwhile lessons. An old hymn gently reminds us of how we need to live each day:
"Trust and obey, there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."
Have unexpected opportunities knocked on your door dressed in problem’s working clothes?
Have you been struggling as I have?
Perhaps we could train together and cheer one another to the finish line?
What do you think?
“God disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”