While personal difficulties can be genuine, regardless of their large-scale importance, sometimes it is helpful to put them in perspective. The Lord cares about what I care about and so I try to be careful to not dismiss hurt feelings, stress, or joy simply because it isn’t life altering. Yet when I do feel overwhelmed or a bit shaken, it can help to focus on the aspects for which I can be grateful.
There are two recent examples that come to mind. The first is my living situation. Currently, I am in the process of moving into a new house, but I am not quite moved in yet. Over the past couple weeks, I have stayed mostly at my parents’ house in the country and sometimes with friends who live in town. It isn’t that difficult of a life, but the slight upheaval of transitional homes adds a bit of extra stress to the day-to-day life.
Yet when I was sharing this stress with a few different people over the last couple of days, I was struck by the fact that I am not homeless. In fact, it is the opposite. I have an abundance of homes–there is the home I am working to move into, my parents’ home where I have my own bedroom when I stay there, and friends who generously offer a room to me when needed. The added stress I feel is real, but the things I can be grateful for far surpass the inconvenience.
Health is one of those things that only seems to cause gratitude when it is lost and then regained. Or when you hear about the ill health of someone else. The other day I heard about a dear friend who has been suffering for several years with Lyme disease. It wasn’t news to me, but every time I get an update, I am forced to revisit the great gift of health that I have. While my friend must be shielded from additional sound and cannot use her incredible intellect like she once used to, I am in relative good health. The small pains or inconveniences are nothing when compared to her debilitating illness.
Reminders of my friend cause me to pray more for her and also seriously consider how I am using my life and time. How am I just floating by when I could be living passionately? In what ways is the Lord desiring me to be ‘all in’? Am I fully using my gifts and talents as God is desiring? Fully healthy, my friend is a force to be reckoned with. Suffering immensely, God is using her pain to do something I cannot see yet something I believe is moving mountains and transforming hearts. The Lord can use me, too—perhaps He is gently asking to do so in some way yet unfathomed.
The stresses and frustrating encounters of teaching pale when I realize my friend would love to have the opportunity to tell others about the faith. I do enjoy it and yet when confronted with students telling me that they feel it is their obligation to tell their peers the truth (and that I am telling them falsehoods), I find it difficult to be grateful. Keeping my problems in perspective (or trying to, at least), helps me remember the reasons I have to be grateful and minimizes the enormity that present difficulties can sometimes seem to have. From home to home and from poor health to vigor, the Lord is striving to make me ever more aware of His presence.