I have spent countless hours this past month bouncing back and forth between waiting room music and customer service representatives. In fact, this past month has been consumed with not just calls, but scheduling home visits, missed, canceled, or improperly scheduled home visits, and back orders all to replace broken appliances in our home.
What I expected to be an uncomplicated process has turned into anything but that. And that in a sentence feels like an accurate summary of 2023 thus far. I have been blindsided by the unexpected repeatedly. Each time the unexpected has snowballed into more complicated issues that have consumed my time, my energy, drained me emotionally, and honestly left me asking – why?
Maybe you can relate?
And I am reminded of Jesus’ words:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 NIV
Sometimes troubles take the form of major life events, like a diagnosis or a loss, but the most common troubles we face are everyday issues. A broken appliance. A relationship gone awry. A misbehaving child. An incorrect bill. Seemingly small issues, but they still hold the power to chip away at our time, our patience, and our confidence. Distracting us from what we want or need to be doing.
In and of themselves, these aren’t life shattering, but when we are bombarded by them, we can be left feeling discouraged and defeated. Like we are a fraud or a failure. And as these little distractions eat up our time, we can lose sight of the bigger picture. We feel pulled from investing our time in what really matters, like our faith and family, and we find ourselves rushing around frantically trying to keep up. We can even redirect our frustration from the issue at hand to those we love.
Which brings me to the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:
So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.MSG
Sometimes our lives can feel like they are falling apart, but Paul’s words here give us hope. We serve a God who is the giver of abundant grace. The healer and restorer of the broken. He reminds us that the troubles we face in our everyday lives are only temporary and he encourages us to look to what is eternal – our faith.
Have you ever seen a magician perform slight of hand tricks? A trick where they misdirect our attention, so we don’t notice what they are actually doing and thus it looks like magic? Well, I am beginning to think these light and momentary troubles are Satan’s little slight of hand tricks too. He redirects our attention to what feels pressing in the moment, so we don’t focus on what actually matters. What has lasting and eternal impact. Instead of seeing God, we see our troubles. Instead of investing our time in what matters most – our faith, our family, our ministry, etc. – he chips away at our time with little distractions.
Sometimes we just need to pause, take a breath, and put things into perspective. We need to ask ourselves:
- What are the most pressing items on my to-do list today?
- What needs to be addressed immediately?
- What can wait?
- What can only I accomplish today?
- What do I need to do today to meet my needs and feed my soul?
- Is this issue distracting me from what I really need to be focusing on today?
What if when we feel bombarded by the everyday discouragements, we pause for a moment of perspective? What if we take the time to address the issues at hand, but also do not allow our momentary and fleeting troubles to distract us from the bigger picture? Today, let’s make it a priority to invest in what really matters first. Time with God. Our family. Self-care. Time with friends.