When Problems just keep POPPING UP

Inside: Ever notice no matter how overwhelmed you are, life keeps happening? Need help on how to handle problems that just keep POPPING UP? Read on!

Have you ever played that game, Whack-A-Mole? You know the one. You have this big rubber hammer and little plastic moles keep popping out of random holes in the table in front of you. Your job is to “whack” each one before it disappears and another pops up. There is no rhyme or reason. No pattern to help you anticipate when and where the next mole will pop up. And, if you happen to have great reflexes and hit the moles, the next level only gets HARDER. More than 1 mole pops up at a time at opposite ends of the table, etc.


Perhaps it is the control-freak in me that absolutely canNOT handle the fact that I can’t plan HOW to beat the game. It’s all about reflexes. My reflexes suck and no strategy will give me a leg up on success. Since my happiness is often driven by my ability to control my circumstances through planning, this game drives me CRAZY!

I recently started the study The Armor of God, by Priscilla Shirer. She brilliantly relates this carnival game to the trials and tribulations that we experience, day-in and day-out. I sat there, on my friend’s couch and an over-sized, 1000 watt light-bulb beamed a blinding light into my heart.

Life happens, right? There ALWAYS seems to be that rebellious child, that distant spouse, or that overbearing boss. Maybe there is no end to the financial problems or your health problems. You dig your way out of one hole only to find yourself plunging back into another. If you are anything like me, you do all you can to PREVENT this from happening. Budgets, chore cards, and books that focus on improving relationships. Exercise, a healthy diet (for the most part). Heck, I even bought the extended warranty on my minivan!

Yet the moles keep popping up! No matter how well I plan, no matter how organized I get, no matter how patient I try to be –


How do we handle problems that just keep POPPING UP?!

(Like when I hit a deer and my mini-van spent 5 weeks in the shop. No extended warranty could solve THAT problem! U-G-H!!)

Here is a little secret about me…when I can’t control my circumstances, I tend to freak out. I get impatient, I get irrational and I get angry. It’s not a pretty sight. But, like the Whack-a-Mole game at the carnival, there IS a way to deal with the problems that just keep popping up in our lives.

How to Beat “Carnival Whack-A-Mole”

If you were to bust open the box underneath the holes where the moles keep popping up (I don’t recommend this, you will likely get in trouble), you would discover a machine that is controlling all the little plastic moles. Disable this machine, and you stop the moles from popping up once an for all (I definitely don’t recommend this, you will certainly get in trouble).

How to Beat “Life Whack-A-Mole”

Much like the physical game, something is controlling all the big, and little, problems that keep popping up in our life.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is pointing out that our “problems” are not the people we interact with, the bills that we must pay or even the physical body that we live in. The “machine” that is the source of these issues is “spiritual forces of evil.”


He is conniving, he powerful and he is invisible, but he is NOT fictional!

Is it just me or does that sound intimidating?! And it IS…at first. While I might be able to disable an actual mechanical carnival machine (albeit illegal to do so), I feel completely inadequate to disable “cosmic powers over this present darkness.” And I am right to feel that way!

BUT, that does NOT mean I have lost the game.
It means that I need to turn to the one who IS ABLE.
The ONLY one who IS ABLE.
Jesus Christ.

The good news…no, the GREAT news is that Jesus already conquered Satan. The game of Spiritual Whack-A-Mole has ALREADY been won FOR us! When Jesus returns, He will disable all the evil, all the cosmic powers and there will never again be a problem for His believers to take a swing at. The moles will STOP POPPING UP!

Even if you know this to be true, you still may be thinking, “Sure, Alison, that’s great and all, but what am I supposed to be doing in the meantime? How do I deal with these problems that ARE STILL popping up NOW?”

Jesus is STILL the answer, and PRAYER is the “hammer” you use. Does this sound too simple? Seems like it is not a real solution? If you are rolling your eyes, just take a deep breath and stick with me.

There is nothing more powerful than prayer, yet we often don’t feel that is the truth.

Why is that?

Because we try to whack our problems with our hammers – with our will power, in our strength, with our strategic plan. And while those hammers may help us catch a few moles at the beginning of the game, as things get harder, and problems begin popping up faster and all at once, we won’t be able to keep up. We become overwhelmed, frustrated and, if you are like me, angry! By the time we turn to God, we have already decided that the problem just can’t be solved and so, when we do pray, we have no real faith that He can or will answer.

So what, God won’t answer us if we don’t have faith? What I think James is saying here is because of our lack of faith, we will not HEAR what God is saying, especially if His answer is not what we want to hear.

When we continue to read a little further down in the letter, in verse 12, James says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” Let me assure you, friend, that steadfastness under trial does not come from our strength! It comes directly from God when we turn to Him and pray for wisdom, direction, healing, forgiveness and even just endurance to make it through the day.

While I will never love the game Whack-A-Mole, I certainly have an entirely new appreciation for it.

It has given me a perspective on how to handle problems that just keep POPPING UP. I am committed to starting a new habit. I am calling it “My Whack-A-Mole Prayer Card.” At the beginning of the week, I will assign a current life problem (no matter how important or insignificant) to a “mole hole” on my prayer card. I will put that card up where I will see it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. and pray that God “whack” each of those moles FOR me. I realize this may sound childish, but I also know it will be effective.

Praying that God handles my problems will solve them way faster than attempting to solve them on my own! While praying, I will also commit to listening for God’s voice, knowing that He may not handle my problems the way I want Him to, but that His way will always be for my ultimate benefit.


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