Tuesday, February 22
I've been having quite a string of bad days lately. I know, bad days happen to us all. But that doesn't make them any easier, does it? My usual way of handling a bad day is acknowledge it as a bummer, go to bed, and start all over the next day. But when one bad day follows another, and then another, and another...bad turns to rotten. Disappointments, frustrations, bad news, and things falling apart all around us--these are the ingredients that make up a good 'bad day.'
Most of the things I whine about are peanuts in comparison to what those around us live with day in and day out. It's like that saying, "I complained because I had no shoes until I saw someone who had no feet." My gripes pale with those of nearly every person around me. I could not even walk a mile in their shoes.
One of the things I am learning about bad days is that they aren't so bad. Driving across town in my air-conditioned vehicle for a meeting only to find no one else showed up is minor when compared to brothers paddling 3 days upriver in a canoe in the blistering tropical sun, only to discover those they were supposed to meet gave up waiting 2 days earlier and went home. If anything, my life is far more comfortable and easy compared to almost everyone we work with in ministry. Not having hot water for a shower is nothing when having to walk a mile for a bath in a muddy river!
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to teach at a church made up of abused, abandoned, hopeless women. While most of these are new believers just beginning their walk with the Lord, their lives are truly miserable filled with pain, fear, suffering, and extreme poverty. As I tried to listen and share some encouragement, I realized the physical, emotional, and spiritual loads they were carrying were way beyond anything I could ever bear.
I don't mean to minimize the disappointments, frustrations, and things that go wrong for us. When they happen they can be tough indeed. Many impact our family's well-being, or the Kingdom. Some cause needless suffering and heartache. But what I am learning is to try and keep things in proper perspective. The things that make a bad day for me might be welcomed relief for my brother who carries a heavier load.
I think it was Charles Swindoll that wrote about life being 5% of what happens and 95% how we react. I've noticed over the years that my fellow Ecuadorian brothers do not sweat the small stuff quite as much as I tend to do. As I sit there spouting off my gripes, I sometimes perceive an amazed twinkle in their eyes that I can get so riled up about such small things. I suspect they have learned better than I what the writer of Hebrews was trying to say,
Think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up. For in your struggle against sin you have not yet had to resist to the point of being killed. Heb.12:3-4