Do You Try to Fix Problems for Others?
And my God will meet all your needs…
— Philippians 4:19a
As believers, we know that life is made up of a series of struggles and challenges, all of which help us develop character, patience, and obedience. The Apostle Paul makes that very clear: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2–4)
And Paul should know. His life is a testimony to the strength and character that emerges from trials and tribulation. So, if we know struggles are essential to spiritual maturity, why do we do everything we can to avoid pain? And why do we try to rob others of the opportunity to grow by “rescuing” them?
God’s Word tells us to “Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) It does not tell us to fix their troubles, though. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” (Isaiah 40:1) But He doesn’t say to take away their struggle. The following little story gives us more perspective on the purpose of struggles:
A man found the cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further. So, the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch the butterfly. He expected that the wings would enlarge and expand at any moment, able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings — never able to fly.
The man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God’s way of maturing it and preparing it for life. The struggle was meant to force fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
— Author Unknown
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If God allowed us to go through our lives without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.
In our compassion for others, we still need to allow God to do His work. Does that mean if we see someone in need we don’t help? No. Proverbs 22:9 tells us, “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” We are certainly called to be a generous, comforting, and compassionate people. We just need to ask God to show us where His part starts and our part ends.
Let’s not be so quick to fix our pain (and others). Let’s allow God to grow us and redeem us. Jesus Christ alone can rescue us; he knows exactly what we need. Nothing comes to a believer that hasn’t first passed through the hands of God.
How do these Scriptures help you to look at trials in a different way?
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life…” (James 1:12a)
“My God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation…” (2 Samuel 22:3a)
Suggestion for Prayer
Ask God to give you discernment and wisdom with compassion.
Who do you know that this devotional might help today?
Jim Grassi, D. Min.