“No problem! No problem!” Ah if only it were true.
In some settings that phrase is a tip off that the person who utters it isn’t really telling you the whole truth. It is code for “I can do this, but it is more difficult than I imagined and as a result it could take more time and cost more money than originally planned.”
In other settings, coming from the lips of believers, it is a statement of faith and an assurance that God is in control.
Years ago I was on a ministry trip to East Africa. For me the most nerve wracking, faith testing aspect of my entire time there was traveling from place to place in my host’s small four door sedan. Every day before we climbed into the car I made it a practice in my mind to race down the aisle, fling myself at the foot of the altar, beg for God’s mercy and get saved all over again.
The driver, bless his heart, often became more engaged in conversation than in keeping his eyes on the road. The roads were narrow and flooded with traffic, especially huge road hogging, diesel exhaust belching trucks. Their only semblance to Minnesota roads were that they were cratered with potholes like ours after a brutal winter. To top it off the car was old and had bald, threadbare tires.
Being the generous person that I am, I decided that I would buy my hosts a new set of treads. We found a place where they sold tires and at my urging sought to purchase the tires and have them mounted post haste. When the man at the shop said “no problem” I rejoiced. Inwardly I was feeling a tremendous sense of relief knowing that a major source of my stress was about to be eliminated. I should have known better. As we climbed back into the car my host explained to me that there was indeed no problem in getting the tires. It was just that they did not have them in stock, but could get them within four or five days. Oh joy!
As it turned out we had a flat tire the next day while journeying out into the bush. There was no spare. No problem! Thankfully we were close to the home of my host’s parents. There we were able to spend the night and the next morning one of the men walked 20 miles carrying the flat tire to a place where he could get it fixed.
I deeply admire and am inspired by the faith of Christians who take the “no problem” approach to life’s hardships. There is much we can glean from those believers who have learned to trust God, roll with the punches, declare “no problem” and then see what God is going to do.
Several years later I was on a mission trip to Romania and Ukraine with two pastor friends. We had flown into Stuttgart, Germany and joined a combined team of Swiss, Germans and Americans caravanning with relief supplies and Bibles to Northern Romania.
After that portion of the mission was completed, the three of us ventured across the Romanian-Ukrainian border on foot in hopes of rendezvousing with representatives from a national evangelistic association who had agreed to meet us there. God was faithful and as we walked out of customs a black four-door sedan drove up, two young men stepped out of the car and with broken English welcomed us to Ukraine. For the next week Yuri and Victor became our guardians and escorts. We learned that they were the younger brothers of the main evangelist, Slavik Radchuk whom we had come to join and planned on ministering with at several crusades. We headquartered in Rovno in Northwest Ukraine where their ministry office was located.
With a departure flight leaving Stuttgart the end of the week we were very mindful that we had to arrange a way to get to Budapest, Hungary, where we could catch a train to Stuttgart. Our two young escorts generously offered to drive us the 300 plus miles from Rovno to Budapest. We did not want to be an imposition but they insisted and convinced us saying that it was “no problem.” With just one day to make the trip we set out in the morning.
About mid day, as we were traveling merrily along enjoying the country scenery, the engine suddenly gave a stammer and a stutter, went silent and we ominously coasted to a stop. Our friends Yuri and Victor hopped out of the car threw up the hood and in short order gave us an engine post mortem.
But wait! No sooner had that pronouncement begun to register in our Western time conscious brains than the dreaded yet wondrous follow-up offering came from the lips of Yuri – “No problem!” I’ll never forget it. And he did not just say it once. He repeated it again and again throughout that amazing day. “No problem!” “No problem!” “No problem!”
Yuri knew something about faith and the reality of the wonder working power of God that most of us just dream about. He had made a commitment to drive us to Budapest before days end and by faith he was determined to do it.
In fairly short order they flagged down a car who agreed to tow us with a thick rope the nearly 20 miles to the next town. It was a perilous journey over a mountainous stretch of road that would even test the nerves of a NASCAR driver. Once there I was so relieved that momentarily I lost all desire to continue on to Budapest. But they didn’t. Somehow in that town (a clear understanding of the whys and wherefores was lost in translation for me) they found another car in what looked like a storage lot. After some extended negotiations they took the license plates from the dead car and put them on the replacement car. In a matter of hours we were back on the road again.
When we finally reached the Ukrainian-Hungarian border it was dusk and we were dismayed to find a line up of cars nearly a half mile long all waiting to cross. People in the queue were milling around outside of their vehicles, with some cooking meals over campfires. “No problem!” Yuri proclaimed. He was undeterred. To this day I do not know how he did it. After a brief discussion outside with some of the people from the other cars, he got back in our car, started the engine and drove right past everyone to the head of the line. Again he got out of the car and taking our passports went into the customs office. After a period of time he returned and with a smile said “No problem!” And with that they waved us through.
By then it was dark and raining. Yuri relentlessly pressed on driving the last leg of the journey to Budapest. It was nearly midnight when we finally found our host’s apartment. Bidding farewell to Yuri and Victor and thanking them profusely for their efforts, one last time we heard those now familiar words – you guessed it “No problem.”
As each of us think about our lives, the challenges or disappointments we are facing, why not give it a try? Just say it – “No problem!”
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