The Problem Is “Never” the Problem
"A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance."1
In teaching classes and counseling hurting people I often remind them that the problem is never the problem and the pain we feel is not the pain that is. This usually takes a while to sink in.
In most difficulties and conflicts what we see is the presenting problem which, more often than not, is the symptom of a deeper problem or "the fruit of a deeper root."
As someone else said, "When we have unresolved problems/issues, God is merciful in that he gives us symptoms." Relational conflicts, anxiety, insomnia, depression, addictions, spiritual dryness, physical ills, and any of a score of other symptoms can be caused or greatly aggravated by unresolved guilt over past unconfessed sins, a deeply buried resentment and a failure to forgive someone from a past hurt, unresolved grief from the loss of a love, or rebelling against the will of God, etc., etc. The roots of some of these issues can go all the way back to early childhood. All need to be confronted and resolved if we are to fully live and fully love, and maintain sound physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual well-being.
Furthermore, many of our physical symptoms can be symbolic. Some ulcers, for example, are not caused so much by what we eat but by what is eating us. Tension headaches can be from jamming up anger in our head. Aching shoulders may be caused by feeling under a heavy load and so on. And if I have a pain in the neck … I may be one, or have someone or some situation in my life that I feel is a pain in the neck!
Tracing symptoms to their causes and resolving these opens the door for healing and recovery. If we don't connect to and resolve the original pain that is the root cause of our symptoms, we will suffer the ongoing pain of the symptoms. This is what I mean by saying, "The pain we feel is not the pain that is."
After David confessed his sin, he said, "What happiness for those whose guilt has been forgiven! What relief for those who have confessed their sins and God has cleared their record. There was a time when I wouldn't admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration. All day and all night your hand was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water on a sunny day until I finally admitted all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, 'I will confess them to the Lord.' And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone."2
David gives us an excellent example to follow.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, no matter what symptoms I have in my life, if they are the fruit of a deeper root, please give me the courage to see and confront these. And please lead me to the help I need to resolve them. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Proverbs 28:13 (TLB)(NLT).
2. Psalm 32:1-5 (TLB)(NLT).