Much Ado About Nothing (What really matters?)

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Much Yawning

Admittedly, what matters a great deal to me may not matter at all to you. There are things and issues I am passionate about that others yawn over. We all grow up with a set of values, and we tend to develop strong feelings through the years that are sometimes shared by others and sometimes not.

I get it.

But . . .

Are there times when we make a big to do about relatively nothing? Are there things we care about that really shouldn’t matter that much in the grand scale of life?

•    So your computer broke. Bummer. How does that measure up to someone’s broken heart?Much Ado Skakespear

•    Okay, your boss was a jerk today. Sorry. But how does that compare to a person who is facing divorce or the death of a spouse?

•    What? Your kid came home with a C instead of an A in algebra! The nerve. But what if you had a special needs child who will never be able to do math?

•    Dang! Your back is killing you. How does that compare to your friend with cancer?

•    You’re starving because you had to skip lunch today. Growl. But do you have any idea how many people will go to bed hungry tonight, and they’re literally starving?

Take a breath. I’m not saying you don’t matter. Of course you do. You matter to God, and what matters to you matters to Him.

I’m just asking some simple questions here: When you’re struggling, do you have a big-picture perspective of life? When you’re in the thick of it, can you see past your needs and struggles? Here’s a crazy idea: Maybe it’s really not just about you (or me).

Much to do NOT about me

Why is this important?

First, I’m convinced that the best way to maintain an attitude of gratitude no matter what you’re dealing with is to remember the needs of others. The secret to “giving thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:18) is putting things into perspective. “Yeah, my back is bad, but at least I’m not dead yet!” Regardless of how bad things are, there’s always something for which we can be thankful, and someone struggling more than we are.

Second, when I stop being overly focused on my problems and I see the needs of others around me, it typically motivates me to action. It’s there I find the truth that it’s “more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35).

And finally, I develop an eternal perspective and find hope when I remember that nothing, and certainly no problem, lasts forever. Paul wrote, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

much birds

Perspective. It matters. A lot.

This morning I held in my hand our church’s weekly prayer requests. Twenty people presenting more than twenty desperate needs . . .

A parent struggling with a child over addiction issues.

Friends worried about others who are fighting for their lives with cancer.

Children with broken bodies and no healing or answers yet.

A daughter asking for prayer for her dad who just got out of prison and needs a job.

A wife separated from her husband and brokenhearted.

A half dozen Christians praying for their lost friends or family members.

It broke my heart. It also took my mind and soul beyond my relatively lesser needs. Sometimes I make much to do about nothing earth-shattering in my life and not enough about the agony of those all around me.

How about you?

It’s something to think about . . .

 

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13 Responses to Much Ado About Nothing (What really matters?)

  1. Well, as they say, if you can’t say Amen, say Ouch! I’m saying ouch right now. I really had to take a moment to step back and evaluate whether the things that I’m currently stressed out over are really as big as they appear right now. But you know, perhaps this too, is a ploy of the enemy: to blind us to the bigger picture and the bigger story, by keeping us so fixated on the little things in life.

    • Hi Shanique, Thank you for joining the conversation. My point exactly, sometimes there is a “bigger story” and we miss it because we can’t/won’t see beyond ourselves. However, I’m so glad Jesus cares about my/your story too!

  2. Kurt,

    God is patiently teaching me there is a story behind every face. It does not take long to find another who faces challenges far greater than mine. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. When I think about what I am suffering in my life I reflect on one of Democritus’ ethical sayings, “one should be cheerful at the thought of others, comparing one’s own life with that of those who are faring worse, and should congratulate oneself when one thinks of what they are suffering, and how much better one is doing and living than they are.” And gratitude, according to Robert C. Solomon, is not only the best answer to the tragedies of life; it is the best approach to life itself.” Nietzsche once said, “We love life, not because we are used to living but because we are used to loving.”

    • Hi Randy,

      I wrote the following in an email to someone who had some “push back” on this blog. Clarity is cool, so for the sake of a bit deeper of an explanation here are some additional thoughts . . .

      I learned a long time ago two very important things: 1) I’m not always right; 2) Even if I am, relationship matters more to me than being right.

      That being said, as I mentioned in the blog, it’s not that our needs are unimportant. They are to us and to God. If/when we are in the midst of traumatic loss/pain we do need to get healed, we do need the comfort of God and others. I didn’t say our needs don’t matter. They do.

      I was, however, attempting to address a common problem in our culture of thinking ONLY about oneself and not the often-greater needs of others. Far too many are self-serving narcissists far too often. I was challenging people to remember the sometimes horrific needs of others around them.

      The way of the cross is to think of others first. In fact, Jesus put the needs of others before His own, and here’s what Paul wrote:

      “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

      “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:24

      “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4

      Again, I encourage people to care for themselves and to love others as they love themselves, but I still contend that a self-centered perspective is one reason why so many are depressed, angry and unable to have an attitude of gratitude in the midst of their personal struggles.

      • Thanks Kurt. And thanks for your message this morning. I am looking forward to listening to your message next Sunday. Your words are always encouraging to do the words of Christ. Having an attitude of gratitude in our personal struggles is not easy in our sinful condition! I guess the Cross is where we must look “beyond” our struggles, our limited perspective, in order to have the courage to be what God sees in us.

        I try to remind myself that I move, live and have my being through the grace of God. And to be mindful that life is a free gift from God and my response to act responsibly by exercising my God-given talents and abilities that are to be done out of love with a heart of gratitude and thankfulness.

        A giving up yourself for others is not easy. It is hard and painful! However, the Cross alleviates the pain and makes it not only possible but a joy to sacrifice yourself as Paul knew all too well because he had the right to boast that he had “become all things to all men [and women”] that he might by “all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22).

  4. Thank you again Kurt for another eye-opening blog. The examples you listed above are things that go through my mind all the time. I have to constantly catch myself because I can so easily get into the self-pity mode. This is such a good reminder to sit back and look at the big picture….PERSPECTIVE is truly the key. God Bless You for writing the way you do. I always find your blogs practical and useful for my daily life. I really appreciate it!

  5. Murphy’s law: No matter how bad things seem to be, they can always get worse.
    After 65 years, I am still working on this one.
    Curtis

  6. Thanks Kurt for your message. As always, your words are insightful and prodding. Working with the public can be draining. The demanding “me” attitude is an epidemic. Your thoughts bring encouragement and focus. I too slip into the selfish “me” attitude so I must look to God each day to give me that different perspective to see what he sees. There is always always a bigger picture!

    Have a blessed day.
    Kathy

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