On Facebook recently I’ve seen a lot of references to “first world problems.” These are things that bother us and irk us that only come about because of our over-abundance, not because of the deficiency in a real need. For instance, having to get the brakes replaced on the car or having to call out the air conditioner repairman because the A/C is on the fritz are both examples of first world problems. These aren’t related to getting enough to eat, to having a roof over our heads, or being able to worship freely and pray to our Savior without fear of harm. The key to remember is as these little things pile up and seem overwhelming, they aren’t more than we can endure. Yesterday was that sort of day for me and one of my accountability brothers reminded me that God is in control and that with Him I can handle it.
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
– Revelation 14:12-13, ESV
See, first world problems are nothing. There’s going to be a day coming when God is going to have to remind us to endure, because we will be facing the persecution of the saints. Saints will die simply for their belief in Jesus Christ. We don’t tend to see this problem in the “first world.” However, if you have any sort of awareness to what’s going on in the whole world you know that there are plenty of places where the body of Christ is having to endure these types of hardships. We see folks being considered second class citizens because they are Christians. We see kidnappings, rape, torture, and even death because folks believe in Jesus Christ. It isn’t unusual in some parts of the world to hear about a young teenage girl who is a Christian being kidnapped by men of another faith and then that girl is forced to marry another male of that other faith. Such an act means she has to convert her faith. And once converted, were she to “convert back” to Christianity, the laws of the region or nation state that she should die by execution. Of course, we know that the girl didn’t want to marry, that she was coerced. Usually she has no say in it and it’s a sham ceremony. Of course, since her marriage is forced, there was no actual conversion to that other religion. However, by virtue of having a recognized marriage, those who would do Christianity harm can claim, based on the accepted laws and practices of the land, that she has converted from Christianity because she is now married. Yes, that’s circular logic, but it is supported. And then she’s stuck. She’s married to someone she abhors and she cannot be truthful about who she follows. She cannot escape. If her family cannot find her, rescue her, and get her out of that area, she faces either a disastrous life or death. To remain faithful to Jesus Christ in such circumstances requires great endurance.
Most of us don’t deal with problems anywhere near that sort of thing. Therefore, the endurance we require is far less. Yet it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed, as if we can’t do enough or as if we can’t handle it all. The key is to rely on God. We don’t have the endurance He does. He bore our sins on His body and He faced the wrath of the Father on our behalf. I’d call that some unbelievable endurance. And the neat thing is He offers to help us bear what faces us. He doesn’t cherry pick things, either. He tells us just to come if we are weary. So whether it’s a mid-term exam that has us stressed out or the unexpected death of a family member in his early twenties, Jesus is there to give us heavenly endurance. The problem is that we often don’t take Him up on the offer.
What is it that you are shouldering today that is wearing you down? What could you ask for help with from God that you haven’t, possibly because of personal pride? Why are you still holding on to it? Why are you not allowing the One who paid for your sins to pick up part of the load, too? Do so and feel the relief that can only come from turning over your burden to the Lord, so that you might not sin but instead glorify God with your word and deed.