Does God solve our problems or should we solve them ourselves?

Last updated on February 22, 2021

Man's hand in shallow focus

Some examples

Adam had a big problem. Because of his sin, God chased him from paradise. His easy life was over, and the Lord told him: “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread” (Genesis 3:19). Life became difficult and full of problems. From now on, Adam had to fend for himself.

Noah had a big problem. The earth was going to flood. God told him that, and told him to build a big boat. That probably cost him 120 years. God told him about the problem and gave him the solution. But it still required a whole lot of hard work!

Abraham had a big problem. He and his children were the owners of wonderful promises made by God. Yet he had no children, and he was already ninety-nine years old. The Bible says: “Then the Lord visited Sarah as he had said… And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age” (Genesis 21:1-2). The Lord solved Abraham’s problem, but of course Abraham still did his part in getting Sarah pregnant.

Joseph had a big problem. He was in prison. The Lord gave him insight into the dreams of Pharaoh’s servants, which eventually led to his release. This clearly was God’s intervention, and Joseph himself had very little to do with it.

Moses had a big problem. Only a few months old he was about to be killed for the sin of being a Jewish boy. God saved him by placing him in the care of Pharaoh’s daughter. But He did it through the plans and scheming of Moses’ mother, who prepared a basket for him that would float on the water.

Israel had a big problem. On one side was the sea, on the other hand the Egyptian army that wanted to kill them. But Moses told them: “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14). And God opened the sea for them.

David had a giant problem. He had to fight Goliath, a trained warrior who towered more than a meter over him. He said: “The Lord… will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37). And God did. But David still had to sling the stone to beat Goliath.

Many other problems could be added to these examples. But these are enough to give us some insights into who is responsible for solving our problems.

Helpful insights

First, we are all descendants of Adam who are not living in paradise anymore. Life is hard, and we cannot sit back and expect God to take care of us without our own effort.

Second, normally God solves our problems through our own hard work. Moses’ and David’s problems are good examples of that. Without the eyes of faith, it is easy to tell the story of how Moses was saved and how David killed Goliath as just examples of human ingenuity and courage. Yet we believe God is working in and through our own efforts. He is leading us.

Third, we get wisdom from God to solve our problems. Noah was not even aware that a problem was coming, and certainly would not have thought of building a boat of over 100 meters long as the solution. But God told him. God also gives us the wisdom, through his Word, to deal with life’s problems.

Fourth, sometimes there are problems so big they are beyond our control and we cannot do anything. It might very well be that this is part of living in a fallen world. We just have to go through them, in the knowledge that God is with us in the problems rather than saves us out of them. But in His grace He might also answer our prayers and deliver us. That might be through circumstances that others may not recognize as God’s intervention (see e.g. Joseph’s example). It might also be through a mighty hand in a way that stuns everybody who witnesses it (see e.g. Israel crossing the sea).

Fifth, the greatest problem we all have is the problem of our sin. This separates us from God. It is this problem that Jesus solved for us. He died for our sins so that we would be reconciled to God if we just trust in the Lord Jesus. All other problems, however bad they may be, are just temporary. On the new earth that the Lord prepares for all who believe in Him there will be no tears, no crying, and no pain.

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