Big Problems vs. The Big Picture
Fr. Joseph K. Horn
St Barbara’s Parish
Santa Ana, CA
Imagine a farmer. This farmer gets up one morning to discover that there is no water coming out of his water pump. Big Problem. So he gets out his tools, and goes to the water pump, and checks it over from top to bottom to find out what is wrong. Ten times he goes over it, to try to find the cause of the Big Problem - but he cannot find it. There seems to be nothing wrong with the pump, yet still it produces no water.
What do you suppose the problem is?
The problem of course does not lie in the pump. The problem very likely is that there has been no rain. There is a drought. The solution to the farmer’s problem is on a far larger scale than what he is looking at. The problem is that he just can’t look further than his pump - when in fact there is nothing wrong with his pump! He’s missing the cause of the Big Problem because he’s missing the Big Picture.
Many times, our Big Problems are very much the same. We might be depressed, or we might be afraid, or we might have problems in our relationships - and in our minds we go over them again and again, and we never come to a solution. The solution is something larger than the problem, something that we can never find by staring at the problem itself.
Of course, that was Martha’s problem. She was was focussed so intently on the Big Problem of the household tasks that she didn’t even look at the Big Picture: Jesus Christ himself was sitting in her living room! She could be in there talking with him and laughing and listening and learning, but no, she’s running around all flustered and flabbergasted about what she perceived to be Big Problems.
To avoid this trap, all we have to do is keep our focus on the Big Picture. For example, do you have a relationship problem, or a worry problem? We can focus on such problems till the cows come home and never find a solution. The only way to solve such Big Problems is to look at the Big Picture, which includes such things as our spiritual life. Do we make the time to pray about things, and to have complete peace to think and restore our souls?
Another source of Big Problems is Work. Everybody these days seems over-worked and stressed out. Unless you are able to take regular rest as the Bible commands, and take care to enjoy the things that God has made for you to enjoy - such as music, and friends, and nature - you can go over your depression or your unhappiness a hundred times, and you won’t find the cause for it, because you’re not looking at the Big Picture.
Experts say we should have balance in 7 crucial areas: Spiritual life, home life, work life, rest and recreation, social contacts, nutrition, and exercise. Taken together, these form a very Big Picture, one which contains the solutions to even our Big Problems.
Coming to grips with the Big Picture helps us realise too that our problems are just earthly woes, and there is far more to the life we live than earthly things. The Big Picture includes a loving Father in heaven, who sits in glory on a great throne. How often do we look at that Big Picture? The Big Picture is that there is an eternity that lies ahead! That’s one BIG picture!
There are great principalities and powers in this world, said Paul, that we do not see. So often we think our problems are the greatest things in existence - but the Bible shows us that God created all things, visible and invisible, and some of the greatest are invisible.
One of my favorite examples of this is in the 2nd book of Kings. You might remember how the king of Aram sent a great force of horses and chariots to surround the prophet Elisha to capture him - and Elisha’s servant thought this was a Big Problem and panicked, and said, “Oh my lord, what shall we do?” The servant was only looking at the Big Problem and was missing the Big Picture. His tunnel-vision made him think that they were doomed, that it was just him and Elisha against all the king’s horses and all the king’s men. He forgot all about the zillions of angels who could help them defeat the enemy.
Elisha, however, saw the Big Picture. He said, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And the servant’s eyes were opened, and he saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire! (2 Kings 6:17).
One of the things that we know as Christians is that in the Big Picture, the Lord is with us, and that He will transform our problems, even our Big Problems, into victories. As Christians we know in faith that it is precisely in times of crisis that that the Lord is working hardest, and bringing about the most growth in our lives.
Seen from a Christian point of view, a time of crisis is a blessed time of movement. It means the Lord is working for us. If the idea of God working for us sounds backwards, then listen to this: the Bible tells us in Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him.” That’s the Big Picture, and a beautiful picture it is!
So don’t be like that farmer thinking the water pump was a Big Problem because he missed the Big Picture. The next time you find yourself dwelling on some Big Problem but finding no solution, then remember this homily, and remind yourself that our lives are part of a Big Picture of God’s eternal plan of infinitely loving providence. Focus on that, and your problems and their solutions will all become clear.