God Helps a Computer Programmer
One morning I arrived at work in the midst of quite a turmoil about problems that had happened with the nightly computer processing. Certain records appeared to have been dropped that were supposed to remain on one of the files. The people working on the problem had determined that it had happened at the end of the previous week, but hadn’t resulted in noticeable problems until the following Monday night. The supervisor identified the only program in the system that he knew was designed to drop any records, and it was one I had made some changes to late the last week. So I was put in the hot seat, and I was given two tasks: 1) identify the actual body of records that were dropped, and figure out how to get them back onto the file, and 2) find and fix the problem in the program, so that it didn’t do more damage the next week (it was a weekly process).
Well, identifying the missing records wasn’t too difficult—someone had already identified the specific backup of the file that was just before the records were dropped. It turned out there were over 7,000 of them (only about 25 to 30 records should have been dropped), and I created a process to put them back on the file, which would involve removing them from user access for up to half an hour.
The second problem, however, proved more difficult. I had made some changes to the program the previous week to fix an earlier problem that had been identified, but as much as I studied the program logic, I could not figure out any reason for the dropping of all those records that shouldn’t have been dropped. It occurred to me that I ought to pray, but I was so involved in trying to study the problem that I put it off a little. Then I stopped to earnestly beseech the Lord for help, but I found the devil putting in my mind the thought that it was no use, I’d already searched unsuccessfully. I resisted that thought and the feelings of futility that came with it, and set myself to trust the Lord to help me. (You can probably guess how the story ends now, can’t you?)
The Lord has a sense of humor and knows how to deal with our silly little self-confidences. After praying, it occurred to me that I could perform a simple test to demonstrate that the program really wasn’t the culprit after all, or in the unlikely event that it was, to give some clues as to where the problem lay. I was still minded to believe the problem lay somewhere else, and ran the test with that thought uppermost. Well, the test proved something, all right. It proved that the program was the culprit, and gave me clues for just what type of problem in the logic to look for. By careful examination of the record that wasn’t dropped, and the logic of the program, I found the problem. And yes, it was right in the logic that I had added, all right.
I made the fix, retested the program (it now worked correctly, thank the Lord), and announced my “guilt” and the solution to those who had been involved in the problem. By the time I went home everything was back to normal, and I got to marvel at God’s ability to humble me and enable me to think clearly at the same time!