“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again–rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4 NLT).
After spending three weeks in the beautiful island of Grenada, my body still hadn’t completely adjusted to the heat. It doesn’t matter what island paradise you find yourself in, 30 C (86 F) plus humidity is just plain…hot!
And so I complained…
My body had adjusted somewhat to the climate however, as I would discover that morning, after a rainstorm, when the temperature dipped all the way down to 23 C (73 F). When I went out for a little walk, I actually felt…cold!
Because I had been “complaining” about the heat to everyone back home, I quickly composed a text for all of my family back home: “23 degrees C. this morning! I’m cold!”
Meanwhile, while I was fussing that I was “cold” at 23 C., the family back home were suffering under deep-freeze conditions. With the wind-chill factor, temps were dipping down to -30 C., and there was up to 30 cm of fresh snow in parts of the country where my family live. I guess my “problem” got classified as “A Caribbean” problem, unworthy of sympathy; for needless to say, I didn’t get any…
It doesn’t matter where we find ourselves in life, problems always seem to abound. We complain about being too busy at work, about having to clean the bathroom, that we haven’t gotten away in months, that our car is too old, that we don’t have the latest computer or cell phone, that our church is too big/unfriendly/loud/boring, that we don’t have the latest parallel Bible. Meanwhile, others don’t even have a job, some have never, ever left their home villages, many in this world don’t have indoor plumbing, thousands have only their feet for transportation, there are those who don’t have access to education, and an accelerating number of Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith, many can’t attend church, and it is illegal to own a Bible…
The point is, whatever it is we complain about, there are those who have it far worse than we do. I once read an allegory about a man who was complaining about the “cross” he had to bear. An angel took him to a warehouse full of “crosses” and invited him to exchange his “cross” for any of the ones in the storehouse. The man went in, looked around, found the absolute smallest “cross”, and came outside bearing it. He would then learn that it was the exact same “cross” he had been carrying all along…
It’s so true! If we could see the full picture, then when asked if we wish to “exchange” our problems for those that others have, we would more than likely pick our own!
When faced with adversity, no matter how big or small, we always have two options: We grumble and complain about what we don’t have, or we rejoice in what we do.
After contemplating this truth, I repented of my complaint that the temperatures dipped down to 23 C. Instead, I rejoiced that I was blessed enough to be in the Caribbean and to be avoiding the deep-freeze back home.
It’s amazing how I began to truly enjoy what I had after that…
Something else happened as well. When I wasn’t so focussed on my own comfort–or lack thereof–I began to empathize with those who truly did have it worse off than I did. Instead of complaining to them for a “problem” that was far smaller than theirs, I began to be supportive and encouraging. It’s amazing how a tiny bit of empathy goes such a long ways towards helping someone! And that, in and of itself, is so much more rewarding to us, ourselves, then constantly trying to one-up them.
The Bible tells us, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again–rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4 NLT). It also teaches that, “This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 NLT). We would do well to remember that, “This is the day” refers to…everyday! And the more we “rejoice and be glad in it”, the happier we will feel, and the more we can be a blessing to those who are hurting around us.
Too ______ (you fill in the blank) where you are? Remember: That’s a “Caribbean problem”! There are others who have it far worse. Why not choose to rejoice in what we [do] have instead of complaining about what we don’t? When we do, we will begin to lift others up instead of bringing them down with our own troubles!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.