"Jesus stopped in the road and called, 'What do you want me to do for you?'"1
An old man seated in the doctor's waiting room, when called in to see the doctor, slowly got up, and, grasping his cane and hunching over, slowly made his way into the examining room.
After only a few minutes, the man emerged from the room, walking completely upright! A patient who had watched him hobble into the room all hunched over, stared in amazement.
"That must be a miracle doctor in there!" he exclaimed. "What treatment did he give you? What's his secret?"
The old man looked at him and said, "Well, the doctor looked me up and down, analyzed the situation, and gave me a cane that was four inches longer than the one I had been using."2
How often do we give everyone the same length cane; that is, the same answer for every problem? Then there are those people who see every problem as a nail for which they have only one cure—a hammer!
For example, some people blame every problem on a demon. Others' answer to every problem is to take it to the cross or give it to Jesus. To my embarrassment, in younger days I used to teach that if you had a problem, you overcame it by being filled with the Holy Spirit.
While, at times, there may be an element of truth in the above answers, in reality life isn't that simple—neither are our problems. Causes of problems can be complex and multiple and there is no "one answer fits all." And as for pat answers, they are rarely correct, if ever, and are a means of avoiding one's own or another's reality. Not only that, they can do more harm than good to a trusting person.
Jesus never had a pat answer for anybody—ever. And He never had the same answer for any two people. His basic question, either spoken or unspoken, always was, "What do you want me to do for you?" In other words, like the Master Physician He was, He always understood a person's specific need, and prescribed the perfect answer to minister to and meet that need.
May God help us to do the same.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me an understanding heart and a sensitive spirit so that I will always understand people's real needs and meet them at their point of need, and never hand out pat answers. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name. Amen."
1. Matthew 20:32 (NLT).
2. Scott J. Shickler, Words of Wisdom, Kidsway Inc. Cited in Bits & Pieces.