At one point in my life, I toured around singing from church to church. Normally things went beautifully, but this particular concert proved to be a disaster due to the church staff failing to organize. I became so ticked off that it showed. As I complained and tromped about, a man I’d met that afternoon who I knew had lived a harrowing life in a foreign country under a dictatorship, barely escaping with his life, spoke up. He said, “Don’t complain.”
Those two simple words slapped some sense into me. Here I was in the midst of first world problems, murmuring and complaining. He who’d known real problems told me to snap out of it, and because of who he was, I did.
Someone said, “I lamented that I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.” Perspective is everything. And often the reason we adopt a negative, critical, complaining attitude is because we’ve lost perspective. Our problems have grown to fill our field of vision, not because they’re so large, but because our field of vision is so small. Encountering the suffering of others can powerfully pivot us out of a self-absorbed state.
It can help to de-catastrophize things that concern us, to remember that bad things could be worse. Think of your concerns and corresponding blessings in three areas: Finances, relationships, and health.
What are the things that concern you about your finances? Speak that out loud right now. Now, de-catastropize them. So it may be something like, “I live paycheck to paycheck, but I always have enough to eat.” Speak the truth out loud.
Now, focus on relationships. Tell the truth, both the negative and positive side. What are your concerns? What are your blessings? Speak them out loud right now.
Now, what about your health? Speak your concerns and blessings out loud right now.
And let’s pray together. Dear Lord, things sure aren’t perfect. But they could also be worse. And praising you for what’s right is so powerful. Our problems fill our field of vision, but not if we expand our vision. Thank you for expanding our vision. We praise you in Jesus’ name. Amen.
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore!” Psalm 105:1-4