Jesus and First World Problems

I stumbled across a meme the other day that really struck me wrong.

Maybe it’s just me, but I cringed from the first moment I saw it:


Funny, to be sure. Poignant. Worth a thought. It seems to be saying that because Christ suffered greatly, our sufferings aren’t worth comparing.

And I don’t like it. I don’t think Scripture likes it.

Perhaps the problem here is simply the nature of the internet, the inevitable misfire of a simple image broadcasted indiscriminately. We really need “HERE’S MY SPECIFIED AUDIENCE” tags on everything. Because for many of its readers, it’s probably the last thing they need.

Let me ask this: how would you feel if you paid a counselor to sit there and tell you that you’re not really hurting and that it could be worse? You’d probably feel…out of his office, quickly. And rightfully so. No counselor worth his salt would dismiss a human struggle.

I think God, being the Wonderful Counselor, is a step above that kind of incompetence.

Now…I get the spirit of the picture. Can we take our earthly complaints too far? Probably. The world is, admittedly, speckled with whiners. Broken nails and busted pipes are perhaps worth a sigh to God, but not a prayer of weeping. Self-pity is real. It’s not the same as reaching out to God. There is perspective. Part of a healthy outlook is keeping in view the provision, safety, and services we enjoy that most of the world can only imagine.

But consider this…

Suggesting that middle-class Americans have nothing to gripe about, is equivalent to suggesting that being a middle-class American is what should be bringing us joy.

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Stuck Between Hope and Surrender

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“God, I feel stuck!”

Those were my words to God that morning. I’d been wrestling with him in prayer for the millionth time. My pursuit of God seemed to be taking the form of a collision between two opposing dynamics. Like a surface gale fighting a strong ocean current headed the other way.

“God, I feel stuck!”

There are things we desire in this life. How we handle those things is one of the most profound tests of our faith. Like many, I remember when I first began feeling the weight of permanent disappointment in my mid-twenties. As I watched others’ suffering, the sense became suddenly clear: some stories just never have a happy ending. At least not in this life.

As I turned to Scripture and pushed into God’s opinion on such things, I discovered two opposing forces at work.

I’d see that Jesus spent a lot of time offering his help to our earthly troubles, from demon possession to a wedding party that ran out of wine. But I also learned that if even Jesus did not have his every prayer answered, we certainly won’t. “Many trials” are part of the deal (Acts 14:22).

“God, I feel stuck!”

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