“First-World” Problems

**Published on Encourage 365, November 2012**

On Sunday my Pastor showed a riveting video called “First World Problems Rap” and the irony of this video should be evident to any viewer.  I appreciate the message and encourage you to watch it (it’s only two minutes).

 

(Here’s where you click the link to watch the video before reading on…)

 

So, yesterday our church launched a 30-day challenge to start a “First World Problems” complaint jar. You guessed it, every time we catch ourselves complaining about a “problem”–much like what is depicted in the video–we have to drop some money into the jar. At the end of the 30 days we turn in our jars to the church benevolence fund so the money can be used to help others. Immediately I knew I needed to participate (and I hope you’re challenged to do the same—donating the money to your church or charity).

 

Making a “complaint” jar is a great idea and something I hope to continue beyond the 30 days. Even in one day both I and my daughter have begun to realize how much we gripe about trivial things. Let’s face it, waiting in line at Starbucks really pales in comparison to the trials most children face in third world countries. I am ashamed to even admit how often I forget to pray for those children. Most of us will never get the opportunity to travel to a destitute country and personally help, but most of us do have the capability of helping out through active service in our communities.

 

The church I attend has several outreach groups that work with homeless people, foster children, disabled children, hungry families, and more. Even if your church does not offer these things, there is something somewhere that you could probably get involved in. Even if it’s just dropping off canned foods for a food drive or hygiene supplies to homeless communities. The needs are there, we just need to open our eyes and look (and pray) for opportunities.

 

All of our situations are unique. My situation requires me to be home much of the time. I’m a wife, I home-school my daughter, I’m a full time student, and a freelance writer. I am in my home a lot! But a few months ago I prayed for God to show me what I could do to get “hands-on” and He was faithful to immediately answer that prayer! Sometimes we are fooled in to thinking we don’t have the time or resources to make a difference when the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. We may never know what impact our small acts of kindness could have on another life.

 

So my challenge to you is the same challenge my Pastor shared with the congregation. Make a complaint jar and keep track of just how often you complain about “first world” problems. The results will probably be shocking. Remember, the point is to change our perspective. Faith is supposed to be active. Jesus didn’t just sit in the synagogue all day and preach. He was out there demonstrating a hands-on faith, as were the disciples. And we’re all familiar with James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after the orphans and the widows in their distress and to keep oneself faultless from the world.”This is the kind of faith I want to demonstrate to the world; this is the kind of faith I ask God to create in my life.

 

A faith that moves.

 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24

(Also see related article: Let’s Do Justice from Prodigal Magazine)

Cravings

“How sweet your words taste to me, they are sweeter than honey.” Psalm 119:130 NLT

Cravings

What is the first thing you crave in the morning, your normal breakfast food fair? Do you crave cereal, toast, cinnamon rolls, donuts, or are you like me, stumbling and fumbling around hopelessly in search for your coffee?

When you see the word “craving”, you may think of a woman who is pregnant. The stereotypical ideal is that this woman craves pickles and ice cream at crazy hours of the night. (Not my experience, but who am I to judge?) Or perhaps we think of the dieter trying to avoid carbs and sugar at all costs. That poor soul, all they can think about is what they cannot have, which is everywhere on every street corner!

Sometimes you don’t realize you have a craving until the smell hits you. I know this has happened to me many times. I don’t even feel hungry until I step outside and someone somewhere is barbequing.

Mm mm

Now all of a sudden I am starving! In fact, I am fairly certain at this point I may come into physical harm and/or discomfort unless I fix my craving.

Can you imagine loving and craving the Word of God like you do your favorite food? It’s really sad that I even had to type that. The fact is we spend time and consume our lives in what we love. We seek these things out, we prioritize them. When we wake up in the morning, that thing is on our minds.

Work

Kids

Meetings

Ministries

Duties

People

Pleasures

Hobbies

Is God’s word the first thing we crave as we take our waking breath in the morning? Is his sustenance what we crave as the day unfolds before us? When we are bewildered and befuddled are we craving a word from our Savior, or a word from another person who can say what we want to hear but not necessarily what is best for us?

People get so fixated on their craving they may lack total self-control when it comes to food. Often times it is sweets, chocolate, candy and sugars that are the greatest downfalls. Yet the psalmist describes the Bible as being the sweetest thing he has ever tasted! So sweet he craved it over and over, he loved it, he was obsessed with every word of it, he couldn’t get enough of it, he couldn’t wait to dig into it, he couldn’t wait to discover more treasures in it. Now that is the healthiest craving a person could ever hope to have!

Feast on the sweetest sugar of all, the word of God, but never gain weight! His word is always perfect for us, satisfying, never too much, never more than enough. It is just right. There is no such thing as too much of this sweetness! Indulge yourself! You need not ever diet when you’re feasting on this truth!

Wake up, have your breakfast of truth, the real breakfast of champions. And make sure to balance that out with several “meals” throughout the day. You don’t want your spiritual metabolism getting too slow.

“Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come; buy wine and milk with no money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor for what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good and you will delight in the richest fare.” Isaiah 55:1-2 TNIV

Prayer

Jesus, as I start the day you have so mercifully blessed me with, I ask that you give me a new desire for your word. Plant in me a deep craving for the only bread that doesn’t cost money yet satisfies the deepest longing of my heart like no other. Every day I eat food to satisfy my physical needs, I eat consistent meals to stay healthy, yet I neglect to stay consistent in your word. Give me consistency and balance throughout the day, so my spiritual life will be healthy and radiate your truth.