Yesterday, my wife had a great day. We’ve been working on our health as a family and I bought her a Fitbit. But, where there were rays of sunshine spilling into the windows of her life, there seemed to be a small grey rain cloud following me.
My middle son had an indoor soccer tournament on Saturday, so I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about soccer. Having trouble sleeping, I decided to head downstairs to think. So, I grabbed my glasses and phone and went to the bathroom……and promptly dropped my phone in the toilet! I dropped my phone in the toilet! It seems like the punchline to some hilarious joke, except in real life it’s not so funny.
I’m still allowing my phone to dry and hoping it will turn back on- but it’s possible it has gone on to iPhone heaven. The potential loss of my iPhone brings all kinds of emotions out in me. I feel sad, at the potential loss of pictures, my fitness pal info, and game high scores. I also feel somewhat disconnected and even naked as I suddenly realize I have no way to connect to my contact list through texting.
But, as I grieve these potential losses, I also feel ridiculous. We tell our kids that God cares about them, and whatever matters to them matters to God. I believe this- but it definitely takes on a different feel when I start comparing my problems to those of a person living in a third world country.
I think about the people I’ve visited in Haiti, living in small huts, hoping to find meaningful work and food. Or, the stories of those visiting church plants in Guatemala where multiple generations live in houses no bigger than my living room. Or, my college roommate Ben who’s a missionary in China. He recently shared a picture of a Tibetan Nomad family riding a Yak on “moving” day. Pictures like this kind of puts things into perspective for me.
While this is normal life for much of the world, I’m praying with fervor that my iPhone will return to life. I dropped it in a working toilet, which much of the world doesn’t have. If my phone is broken, I will suffer the tribulation of having to get in one of my two cars and spend some of my extra free time (which I have), to get a new phone (which I can afford). “Why does God test me so?!”, David says to himself sarcastically.
This is not to put us down as Americans for the many blessings we have. Rather, understanding this perspective helps us in two ways.
1. Brings humility to our prayers
Remembering how our “suffering” compares to that of others around the world can help bring humility to our prayers. Instead of believing that God hates you because you didn’t get a good enough deal on the new Mercedes you’ve had your eye on, season your prayers with perspective and humility. Still pray, but add in, “I know that much of the world doesn’t have the opportunity to buy a car as nice as this, but can you help me get a good deal today?” I think about this while praying for a parking spot when shopping. I’ll often pray something like, “I know this is kind of silly, but it’d be great if I could get a closer parking spot.” I then don’t turn the result into some cosmic sign that the universe is for me or against me.
2. Increases our gratitude that God cares about our needs
I love that 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety (cares) on him because he cares for you.” “All” means “all”, so we are instructed to bring to God all the things that matter to us. This verse does not add the stipulation, “Unless your cares are silly compared to what others are suffering around you or in the world.” Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” It says, “our” time of need. “Our” needs will be different than someone else’s needs- but our needs are still important to God. Your new perspective will increase your gratitude in prayer that God cares about your needs.
I admit feeling a little mopey about the potential loss of my iPhone. As I talk with God about it, I can’t help but imagine God smirking a little. But, with humility I admit this personal calamity is small potatoes compared to all the woes around the world. But, I bring it to God believing that my concerns still matter to God. It seems kind of crazy, but whatever we’re going through, wherever we are, our concerns do matter go God. Whatever you’re going through this week, try putting it into perspective, but then confidently, but with humility, bring it to the throne of God who cares about you greatly.