Several weeks ago, a chapter of a book I’ve been writing, off and on, for the last two years suddenly disappeared from my computer. I discovered the missing chapter in my recycle bin, although I hadn’t deleted it. I wondered briefly if my computer deemed the chapter no good and auto-deleted! Thankfully, I was able to restore the file. However, I couldn’t open the document. A box popped up with all sorts of potential reasons and possible fixes for the problem, but everything I tried failed.
Not to be outdone, I went to my online backup system and downloaded the chapter. However, this, too, could not be opened. After saying “good grief” numerous times, and trying random fixes that were probably more dangerous than helpful, I contacted a techie friend, whose suggestions were also fruitless. If someone who works with computer programs as a profession couldn’t find a fix, how was a computer dummy like me supposed to come up with a solution? Frustrated and disheartened, I decided to put my problem aside for a few days before going into full-blown panic mode.
While my inaccessible chapter may seem relatively small in comparison to many of life’s problems, it was important to me and represented the loss of many hours of research and writing. You may be dealing with a problem—financial, relational, health—of much greater proportions. But no matter what the issue, we all encounter and must deal with problems that seem insurmountable.
Here are some things to remember as you confront problems:
Panic is often the first response when problems arise. Immediately you begin to postulate worst case scenarios and potential negative outcomes. Panic is born of fear and fear often causes you to make rash decisions that lead to mistakes. But one of the biggest problems with panic is it ignites emotion and prevents you from focusing on practical solutions. Take time to think. Don’t rush into a decision. Or in my case with the lost computer file, push lots of buttons looking for a quick fix. Some problems take longer to solve and require more steps. Be patient and work your way through solutions.
Ask for help
Often, we try to battle our way through life’s problems on our own, but asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak or unintelligent. Getting help from an expert or someone with more experience on your particular issue is smart. Sometimes, your hesitancy to ask for help may involve embarrassment, which is a big hurdle for many of us, but the relief of having a plan of action to solve your problem negates any sense of embarrassment. And don’t forget to pray, which we often choose as a last resort. Many reserve prayer for what they consider huge problems, but God can recover and open a document just as easily as He can resolve relationship problems, provide healing, and solve financial issues.
Don’t ignore your problem
I had some advance warning that something was a little wonky with my computer before my chapter disappeared. The font on my document suddenly increased to the size old desktop computers used to when starting up in “safe mode.” That should have jangled some alarm bells for me, but I pushed a few buttons and declared my problem solved. However, it wasn’t.
For some reason, it seems to be part of human nature to ignore problems. But the longer you pretend a problem doesn’t exist the bigger it becomes. Sometimes, people put a bandage on problems and keep limping along, not realizing this kind of temporary fix often causes more damage. Even if it’s very difficult to do, decide to confront your problem. If you’re dealing with several problems, tackle them one at a time, if possible. Getting started if half the battle. Those first steps ignite forward motion.
Express gratitude for solutions
Several days after discovering my chapter was missing, locating it, and then not being able to open it, I restarted my computer, a potential fix I tried the first day. With the second restart, my chapter appeared in auto-recovery mode. I was able to open it and print the chapter in case it pulls another vanishing act. Although I may never know what caused my chapter to disappear, rendering it inaccessible, for now, I rejoice in the solution to this problem.
Often, after problems are resolved, we fail to express gratitude to those who have helped us, including God. Take time to say thank you, even if a suggested solution hasn’t worked. Cultivating gratitude changes your perspective on problems and helps you face them and find solutions with a more positive outlook.
“The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.” Nahum 1:7 NLT