Monday, March 5, 2018

Make Friends with your Problems

The classic daily devotional book Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, has become daily reading for me. On today's page, "Jesus" recommends making friends with my problems. Which sounds counter-intuitive. Especially considering the admonishments to not worry in other parts of the book. But the concept makes sense under examination. In life we only improve by learning from adversity, both that which just happens to us, and that which is self-inflicted. By doing so, we can approach the perfection of God, in whose image we were created. And more importantly to Jesus, we approach him.

This brings to mind the problem of evil, an idea discussed and debated often in the circles of philosophy and theology, despite the plain simplicity of it. The problem of evil begs the question "Why did God create a world in which evil can exist?". Some use this as a reason for not believing in God, which is a problem in itself and beyond the scope of this post. But imagine a world without evil. As I've discussed in my podcast Running: A Fever, evil does not exist, but is the absence of God, the ultimate good. Still, this absence is the problem.

One answer is often given as another question, "Would you prefer a perfect world?" A world with no challenges, a life with no problems to overcome, would be no life at all, a world with no meaning. It is by overcoming challenges and dealing with the absence of good in ourselves and the other evils of the world that we encounter that we define ourselves. We are aspirational beings by nature. Each struggle gives us meaning. It is the journey itself, not the destination, that provides our utmost enjoyment in life. Without problems, there would be no need for a journey. Life would be meaningless. For more on this concept, see my book on nihilism.

Every problem is a friend because it is a stepping stone on the journey to God. Thomistic philosophy aside, doesn't that make sense?