You’re Not the Problem; You’re the Answer

Written by Sarah Graefe 

Crossing the threshold into someone’s home is an adventure; you never really know what to expect. When I agreed to accept an invitation to my friend’s home, I had no idea what God had in mind to do. But I dared to show up anyway. I’d like to invite you into the story, for I believe God has something to show you too…

The door is opened by a bright-eyed, bold little boy who smiles and runs away as I enter. I leave my shoes at the door. Another child timidly gives me a hug. The father tells me to sit down.

“Dinner is almost ready. But it’s good to have coffee first.” It’s an expectant invitation. One you don’t turn down. Before long I am seated with a tiny cup of strong, tea-colored coffee that bears no similarity to Starbucks. Sweets are offered, along with inquiring, polite conversation. The kids race down the hall and fight over use of their iPad. A savory aroma of chicken fills the house. The atmosphere is natural and comfortable, sprinkled with laughter.

My friends are Muslim, speak both English and Arabic and are some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met. At the end of a visit, it is customary for a guest to leave with leftovers from the meal, so somehow I always leave with a full stomach and more bags than I came in with.

On this visit our conversation covers a variety of things, from college classes and recipes, to Netflix, fasting, and an ancient story from the Quran that describes Allah creating a camel out of a rock as a sign to the people. Over time, our conversation turns to something more personal as my friend tells me she’s been experiencing terrible headaches.

We both believe in miracles and healing. We both revere Jesus, and though details may vary, I offer to pray for her. In response, she boldly puts my hand on the place where she experiences pain. I pray. She tells me she feels “a lightness in her head” and a quiet wonder appears in her eyes. “It’s a miracle,” she whispers and turns to her daughter to tell her to ask for prayer for something she’s struggling with in school.

The evening continues; I leave hours later with a full stomach and a spirit of amazement for the love of Jesus and the power of His name.

Why am I telling you this? My prayer is that as you read this, the Holy Spirit will speak to you and awaken something inside you. All around us, there are problems: brokenness, needs, people desperate for hope and healing. And you, my friend, have something, however small it may be, to offer as part of a solution to the problems you see.

In Matthew 14:13-21, we read the familiar story of Jesus feeding the 5000 with no more resources than some kid’s lunch.

In context, Jesus had just gone off on his own to mourn the death of his cousin and friend, John the Baptist. Crowds find out where He is and gather around Him. Moved with crazy compassion, Jesus leaves His state of grief to heal and care for those who had come.

After some time, Jesus’ followers see a real problem. It’s late, there are thousands of people here, and they are getting hungry. I don’t know the attitude of their observation, but they noticed a problem and brought it to Jesus, saying something like, “Jesus, fix this. These people are hungry. Let them go get some food.”

Jesus acknowledges there is a problem, but He puts the responsibility of a solution on the ones who noticed it in the first place. “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” (Matthew 14:16, emphasis added)

He basically says, “What are you going to do about this problem?” For Jesus Himself had just set the example for them. In His own grief, He had been willing to step into someone else’s pain to release love and the power of God. Now He challenges His followers to do the same.

We know what happens next. They find some bread and some fish, Mediterranean tapas, and give them to Jesus. He blesses the food and gives it to His followers to pass out to the people. As they act on this, a miracle happens and thousands are fed.

I believe Jesus asks the same thing of us. We come to Him with the problems in our relationships, our workplace, our school, our nation and say, “Jesus, don’t you see this? You have to fix it. It’s a mess.” But He lovingly challenges us with: “Yes, I see it. Now what are you going to do about it?”

This isn’t only about ownership; it’s about partnership. We may not have the whole answer, but in bringing what we have to him, He takes it and multiplies it. He works with us and through us to administer the solution.

A few days after we prayed, my friend told me she hasn’t had headaches and her daughter, for the first time ever, did well in a new topic in her challenging class. I am honestly still reeling from God’s goodness and love. That God would take something so small as a simple prayer and do something like this?! Wow.

Believe me, my friend, wherever and with whomever God has placed you right now is your circle of influence. You have something inside you to contribute to whatever they may be facing. Yes, you. Your gifts and talents, when combined with the Holy Spirit can be a significant answer to someone else’s problem.

This week, I challenge you to pray as you go through your week:

God, I thank You that You want to use me to help others.

Give me eyes to see the problems around me.

Help me offer what I can to those in need.

I choose to walk with you today, to partner with your Spirit

to be an answer to someone’s problem. Amen

I would love to hear what adventures God takes you on this week!