My Friday morning coffee-and-prayer partner greeted me this morning with a question: “Have you figured out why God is treating you like Job?” – referring to the biblical character whose level of suffering reached legendary proportions. He asked me that question because in recent weeks I’d been whining to him about how tough things are at work.
But I wasn’t having any of that. Without hesitation I replied, “He’s not treating me like Job. Job would trade places with me in a heartbeat!” I have a wonderful family, a job that pays adequately, a meaningful ministry, and more friends than ever before. Job had all that too – and lost it. Compared to him, my suffering is meaningless.
And yet I’d been complaining in recent weeks, in the form of prayer requests, about a less-than-ideal job situation that has been bothering me a lot. It’s taking up way too much space in my mind. Why is that when 98% of life is terrific, with positive features that most people on this planet can’t even dream of, that I tend to focus on the 2% that falls short of my ideal? Why do I let it bother me so much?
A book that came out a few years ago had the right idea: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I never read the book – the title was helpful enough.
Even more helpful, though, is a Bible verse that my grandmother taught me after my grandfather died, when I was still a kid. She always said that it was his favorite verse: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, NRSV)
“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Lately, my prayer request has been that God gives me the ability to follow His instructions. I think I’m seeing some progress on that.