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First World Problems

Have you ever heard the phrase "first world problem"? Deciding how to spend your extra cash or what (or where) to eat for dinner can seem burdensome to those who have only lived in relatively good conditions. Even though I live with problems others would pray to have, it can still be easy to fall into the trap of complaining about my circumstances.


There are a number of reasons that we might complain about our circumstances. Good reasons include injustice or unfairness, such as getting blamed for damage you didn't do. Other common reasons include being inconvenienced, unrecognized, ungrateful, or otherwise not getting our own way. Another strange variant of complaining that I noticed in myself - perhaps you've experienced it, too - is that we complain alongside others to empathize with them. A well-done complaint can even be humorous!


Though complaining can be sometimes right or help us connect with others, I began to realize a while ago that a general attitude of complaining was not good for my spirit. It's not surprising that 1 Thessalonians says, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17, ESV).


After noticing how complaining dampened my joy, I decided that I wanted to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness about my circumstances. I have learned through the process that focusing on the good in my situations has helped me gain a better view of reality. Rather than forcing rose-colored glasses on myself, I've begun to take off the automatic negativity that used to color my opinions. More than that, I have actually found myself becoming more genuinely happy and even sincerely enjoying challenging circumstances. For instance, I got sick this past weekend, and while it certainly wasn't fun, I found myself being grateful for something making me slow down and rest!


What about you? Do you often find yourself complaining about "first world problems"? If so, I'd encourage you to consider why, and the next time the situation occurs where you want to complain, try to find a reason to be grateful about it. I can't promise you happiness, but I can point you to the scriptures that exhort us to, "Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks for the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!" (Psalm 106:1, ESV). If nothing else, the work of Christ is always something we can be grateful for!

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