A Common Problem

by Steve Klein

Do you tend to have problems that no one else has? If so, this article is for you. And it might surprise you to learn that I know what your problem is. Your problem is that you think your problems are unique, and your perspective is preventing you from getting the help you need to solve your problems. After all, if no one else has ever had your problems, then no one else could possibly help you solve them. Right? In fact, if no one has your problems, then no one can really even understand your problems. In which case, you would be perfectly justified to continue to tell yourself that "no one understands me" or "no one else knows what I'm going through" or "I can't beat this" or "there's no way out." That would all be correct IF no one else has your problems. But they do.

This realization contains tremendous problem-solving power. If others have been through what you are going through, then a number of things are true.

  1. First, you are not alone.
  2. Second, someone can sympathize with you (maybe many someones).
  3. Third, your problem can be solved, overcome or dealt with - others have done it, why not you?
  4. Fourth, help is available.

The world's chief problem causer is Satan. And while he certainly delights in trying to make your life miserable, he has other fish to fry as well. Surely we can understand that the devil is working just as hard on everyone else as he is on you and me. The apostle Peter counsels us to "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (I Peter 5:8-9).

In helping Christians deal with their troubles, Paul repeatedly reminds them that what they were experiencing was not unique. He tells the suffering Philippians that they were going through "the same conflict" which they had seen in him (Philippians 1:29-30). He tells the Thessalonians that they had "suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans" (I Thessalonians 2:14). He tells the Corinthians that they were "enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer" (II Corinthians 1:6).

If others have experienced your trials and temptations and made it through, so can you. This is the point in I Corinthians 10:13 where Paul writes, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." One modern speech translation of the first part of 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads "You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted . . . " (CEV).

The most important step in overcoming a problem is recognizing it. But the second-most important step is realizing that there are those who can help. This is true whether the problem is alcoholism, a rocky marriage, financial woes or just plain sin. And for Christians, it is especially important to realize that there is One who can help, no matter what the problem is. "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16).