Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Some problems can’t be fixed no matter how hard we try. The problems are bigger than we are. I used to try to fix my problems. After much frustration, I finally admitted that some problems can’t be fixed, or at least not by me.
There’s an old The Clash song that I find myself singing; “Should I Stay or Should I Go? That’s a great question. Sometimes our problems leave us wondering, should I fix it, or let it be? As Joe Strummer sings, “If I stay there will be trouble…if I leave there will be double.” Fixing the problem may not really fix it, but we aren’t sure leaving it is good either. What to do…what to do?
What do we do with a problem that can’t be fixed?
I believe John Maxwell used an analogy of riding the rapids. He points out that you can’t move the rocks in the river, but you can navigate them. Navigating the rocks is the only way to make it through the river. Sometimes navigating a situation or problem is the only way to arrive safely on the other side!
Instead of fixing problems, we begin looking for ways to navigate them. The good news is we have someone who is an expert in navigating the rocks!
Man on the Run
David was running for his life. Saul, basically a madman at this point, saw David as a threat to his kingdom and was trying to kill him. At one point, David and his men hide in a cave. Saul’s army was just outside. Then the unexpected happened. Saul came in to use the bathroom!
I wonder what they were feeling inside the cave. You go into the cave to hide from Saul’s 3000 men. Then you see the man who is trying to kill you. What an opportunity to turn the situation around. Saul becomes the hunted. Opportunity awaits!
A Twist of Fate
Instead of killing Saul, David simply cuts off the edge of his robe. The act was a statement and a symbol. God delivered Saul into David’s hands. David had a chance to kill Saul, but didn’t. After Saul leaves, David shows him the fabric he cut and tells Saul he has nothing to worry about.
Was it a close call? Yes. Was there a chance that Saul’s army could have found David’s army? Yes. David knew that God had delivered Saul to him, but David also didn’t want to kill the “Lord’s anointed.” At one time, God had anointed Saul as king and David respected that. He knew he could trust God to deal with Saul. Saul wasn’t David’s problem. David’s focus was on following God’s navigation.
Psalm 57 can be viewed as prayer and result. In the first part of the psalm, verses 1-5, the psalmist prays during a troubling time. Trouble surrounds him as he lies down “among the lions” who are actively working to devour him.
I wonder if David, as he sees Saul’s army gathering right outside the cave, prays a similar prayer. The prayer, “Have mercy on me…in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge…until the destroying storms pass by…” forms in his heart as Saul enters the cave.
His heart rate increases as Saul looks around. David doesn’t know what will happen and then…Saul sits down! The plot twists and now David has the upper hand.
“They dug a pit in my path, but they have fallen into it themselves” (Verse 6). The second part of the psalm, verses 6-11, contains a praise! The psalmist has successfully navigated the trouble, but not because of his ability, intelligence, or power. He knows that God was the navigator. He simply followed God’s lead!
When we rush to fix our problems, we don’t always give God space to work. Instead, we try to fix things ourselves. Because the psalmist gave his troubling situation over to God, he was able to rejoice. God delivered him! His heart, filled with praises, bursts forth in song (Verses 7 and 9). God was and is faithful!
We may not face an army camping outside our cave, but we will face trouble. When trouble camps outside our cave, we may be tempted to run out and confront it. It’s what we do. Our natural reaction is to ‘fix’ the issues we face.
What if there was another way? What if we remember that God is with us? What if, instead of hastily doing whatever we need to fix things, we give God space to work? What if our first response to trouble was not rushing in, but allowing a prayer to form in our hearts?
The next time trouble camps outside your cave, remember, some trouble can’t be fixed. Our best approach and our best hope to navigate the troubled waters is a prayer that gives God space to work in and through our difficulties.
The result may not be what we expected, or even what we want, but we will see God work in ways that leave us singing songs of praise.