Sometimes our lives can seem painted over with issues. Whether they are big or small does not matter so much as the fact that we notice them. They steal our attention, and maybe even our joy. When we look at our day-to-day existence we do not see grace and an overflow of God’s love, we see everything that is wrong with us and everything around us. The view can get depressing when we cannot see much that we have gotten right.
It is easy to get used to rating how things appear, but contrary to what we might believe, this is not dealing with anything. What we are doing is dancing around issues. This makes it obvious that we think the issues we are looking at are the issue — the biggest thing we ought to be focused on. To face our woes or complications is not to look at them deeply, or to be bogged down in them morning and night. In so many areas we can feel like we are a case, but if we want to get the sentence, then we need to look to the Judge.
The matters our minds are preoccupied with we cannot fix or even make sense of. Momentary issues are not the issue. The gospel is really the main issue. It attacks each of my issues directly. The gospel reminds me of this central truth: nothing is really supposed to consume my attention but Christ and all that He has done for me. That needs to be my central focus on every occasion, in every wave of doubt or difficulty. Nothing else can save me. Jesus came to make me free from my anxiety through His atonement for my sin on the cross, not to make me feel like it is less real.
Our help comes when we let God put us in the middle of our issues. We must accept that we are not a person with problems that can be isolated into separate issues, but a problem that is called a person. Only when we can admit our dependence on Him will we be able to see the truth about ourselves and then how God fits into our lives. We get His perspective as we look upward, not inward (and certainly not outward!). The issues in our lives and relationships are nothing less than issues of our heart revealed in a format we can see. External realities show us internal realities. Nothing is a greater reality than God and we want what we see to match up with Him, otherwise we are deceived. When we realize that Christ, and He alone, is the issue we need to be focused on, our hearts will follow the Truth and He shall set us free from all the issues that not only grasp our attention, but our understanding.
Issues are the outlet we have to seeing where God fits in our lives. How we respond to our issues will either divert us from, or direct us to, the real issue: Is God really who He says He is, and can He be trusted to handle us and our baggage? Often what holds our attention as an issue we have to fix is not truly what is the problem at that moment. Therefore, because of the vanity of our fleshly understanding and the deceitfulness of our hearts, we need to use the gospel to interpret where the lines of our real problem falls.