Keeping Problems in Perspective
I’ve been grappling with a big problem lately, one that doesn’t seem solvable. Then this week, after a series of annoying and expensive household crises, the toilet lid broke. I bought a new one, and when I went to install it discovered that the plastic screws were designed for newer toilets; the ceramic on our 1933-era model was too thick.
Aggravated, I had to go out and buy another toilet seat (because you can’t exactly return a used one). I spoke with the man in the hardware store, making it clear that I needed a lid with long screws. He gave me what he had, but neither of us was certain it would work.
Home again, I unwrapped my package. Lord, I prayed, I’ve got enough on my mind right now. Could we just make this one thing easy? The screws were long enough–hurrah! But then I discovered that the nuts to go with them had plastic gripper tabs that wedged against the bottom of the toilet, and because of the shape of our antique bowl, I couldn’t turn the nuts to attach them to the screws. I tried the nuts from the first toilet seat, but of course they didn’t fit.
Now triply frustrated, I took a break to have a cup of tea. Why do things have to be so stupidly hard, Lord? I whined. I reminded myself that as problems go, this one was merely not-in-my-budget and tedious: Millions of people don’t have toilets, don’t have running water. Sighing, I went into the bathroom for a third time, and stared dumbly.
And then I got it: I’d been assuming that I had to turn the nuts onto the screws. But it was just as possible to hold the nut in place and use a screwdriver to turn the screw into it. It’s amazing how many problems are simple when you look at them a different way. The words of Isaiah 55:8 popped into my mind, “ 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord.”
As I ran to get a screwdriver I tossed up a prayer of thanks. Once again I’d learned that just because we can’t see a solution doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
Most of God’s work happens quietly, changing hearts and minds and lives in ways we can’t see.
It’s good for the heart to put some effort into seeing the world from different angles.