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?
• 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).
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).
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 . . .