The Sum of the Unknown

Have you ever felt like problems chase you? No sooner than you get away from one thing, another shows up and then it’s like a junk drawer that won’t shut. Maybe like me, the problems are there because you haven’t learned to solve the equations.

Equation – “In mathematics, an equation is an equality containing one or more variables. Solving the equation consists of determining which values of the variables make the equality true. In this situation, variables are also known as unknowns and the values which satisfy the equality are known as solutions”

A large part of sanctification and character building process is learning to solve problems instead of whining about them, shifting the blame for them or ducking and dodging them. You will never solve an equation by hiding from it.

Math has been a lifelong enemy of mine. When it comes to literature and art, I’m a whiz. I can write papers all day. But math? It may as well be a foreign language. When I took college courses, I whipped through six months of classes with a 4.0 GPA until l I took Algebra. I failed so terribly, that I withdrew altogether in my frustration because they told me that not only did I fail, but I needed to retake the dreadful class and pay $1,200.00 to retake it. I was such a baby that I tore up my book and threw it in the fireplace.

With my 40th birthday approaching, I am moving into new seasons in life. Well, most of them aren’t really new seasons but old seasons that I skipped over in frustration. Things that instilled fear, anxiety and made me uncomfortable so I abandoned them.  But one of things that I feel God is having me re-visit is my fear of solving equations which is better known as “mathematics.”

God is showing me through my frustration the purpose of mathematics and how it plays a role in my faith. After all, even God keeps an account of everything from the sparrows, the grains of sand, every tear we shed, down to the hairs on our head. He is the great mathematician.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31

Mathematics does not exist just for the purpose of expanding our minds, as I have told my children all of their lives, but to learn how to become a problem solver. A problem solver seeks solutions instead of dwelling on the problems.

Maybe I dreaded math because I tend to dwell on problems. Maybe it scares me because there is no grey shaded area. It is right or wrong; true or false. You cannot reason with math. Maybe finding the “sum of the unknown” is too difficult. You have to breakdown the issue into the simplest form. And that takes work and digging below the surface.

A large part of sanctification and character building process is learning to solve problems instead of whining about them, shifting the blame for them or ducking and dodging them. You will never solve an equation by hiding from it. Problems do not magically disappear. It goes against the law of nature. Someone has to solve it or it will go unresolved. It cannot be contained, only solved. That means if the same issue is chasing you like a shadow, it is begging you to solve it. As problems in our world seem to grow into an epidemic, the opportunity for solving the equation is there among the numbers. Problems in the world grow because there are not enough people willing to become problem solvers.  We were all born to solve a problem in the world.

How do you know what problem may exist for you to solve?

  • Do you find yourself surrounded by a particular issue/issues? Friends, family and co-workers tend to deal with the same problem?

  • Does it seem to be an issue that angers or hurts you to the core? The variables keep adding and piling up and then become “unknown burdens” in your life.

When you notice problems adding up, maybe it because there is no one that is courageous enough to do their part. But when you know your part, then you will know fully just as you are fully known. That is when you begin to find the sum of the unknown.

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12