Remedying Our Troubles: God's Responsibilities Or Ours?

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

I recall years ago working with another counseling therapist. He often quoted a saying that invitingly hung in his counseling room--"None of us is as smart as all of us.” Yes, looking for answers and solutions to life’s problems can be found in the collective knowledge of other people and God, as well as within ourselves.

I soon discovered there is an answer to every question and a solution to every problem. It may not be the perfect one, but there are always possibilities and at least one that will help. Sure, sometimes we are left with no choice but to cope with a trouble, but not all troubles and not usually in their original, disturbing intensity.

Pondering the subject eventually led me to ask some questions. When should and should we not rely on God to solve our own troubles? When are our own efforts required? Where does our responsibility end and God’s begin? When is the responsibility both His and ours? And what are we Christians usually taught about all this?

Generally speaking, Christians are taught to completely rely on and trust God for and in everything, as well as not to rely on our own understanding (Prov 3:5). Truth is, we are never to rely on JUST our own understanding and decision-making, but we are to also seek God, His wisdom, and His direction. The passage tells us not to put our own thoughts, decisions, and actions above God’s or leave Him out of the picture. Such exclusive self-reliance is beyond wisdom and the will of God.

A good many people have a penchant for avoiding responsibility, especially when it comes to helping to heal the pain in their lives. Avoidance can be a great temptation. One way Christians can defend against unwanted pain and avoid responsibility for their part in correcting and healing their own wounds is by turning over the problem and troubled feelings to God. Yes, we are to cast our cares on Him (Phil 4:6-7) and it is meant to ease our troubles, but this Scripture is not a license for us to dismiss or avoid our troubles and responsibilities, as if giving it all to God was the only thing Christians should do. In the garden, Jesus prayed for His Father to be of help as He faced arrest, torture, and death. He cast His cares on God through prayer, but He didn’t avoid the trouble. He faced it, endured it, and discerned the Father’s will all along the agonizing path to His death.

In every problem we face on earth, we bear responsibility. The degree of responsibility and the actions we might take are an issue of discernment. We are always responsible for searching out wisdom, understanding, and knowledge in every life situation (Prov 5:1-2). Even though God is sovereign, we would do well never to assume we have no responsibility and there is nothing we can do about a problem that is ours to begin with. Part of our responsibility for discernment is to sort out what role we are to play in healing and His overall will. For sure, there are times we are called to patiently wait for the activity of God when we are in a situation over which we no longer possess any wisdom or control; that is, most often after we have exercised and exhausted what wisdom and control has been acquired by us and given to us.

We trust God to be at work in us in all things. But God doesn’t magically change or even completely heal us without our attentive responses and responsible initiations. Remedying our troubles is always a cooperative effort among God, the individual, and often times trustworthy others.

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