Cast all your anxiety on God, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7
The last few weeks, I have observed quite a few conversations with many different people that have sounded about the same. It goes like this:
Person 1: How are you doing?
Person 2: Okay, I guess. I’m kind of bummed that I had to cancel my Easter plans. We were going to have a family get together, and my kids were going to do an Easter Egg hunt, and then in the evening I was planning to go shopping at the mall, but I guess that’s not as big a deal as some people’s problems, so I really shouldn’t complain. First world problems, you know?
Person 1: Oh, yeah, I was feeling kind of bummed about stuff getting canceled too. I miss getting together with my friends to play cards and drink coffee. I’d really like to get in a hair appointment, too, but of course the salons and barber shops are closed. Like you say, though, we really shouldn’t complain. It’s much worse for other people. We might be disappointed, but at least we’re not sick or unemployed.
Person 2: Yep, can’t complain.
Have you had a conversation like that? Maybe you or the other person were disappointed about canceled vacation plans, postponed graduation, or not getting your regular pedicure. Maybe you heard or said something like: “Well, other people have it worse, so I shouldn’t complain or be sad.”
With all love and compassion, my response is simple: KNOCK IT OFF. Not the complaining or sadness– it’s the “can’t complain” comparisons that need to end. Disappointment and grief are not a competition. You are allowed to be disappointed. You are allowed to be sad. These emotions are normal and part of our human response to change. God created us with these feelings.
Even more importantly, God wants to hear all our anxiety and worries, even the small stuff. God is just as interested in your disappointment that your favorite restaurant is closed as the worry that comes when a loved one is sick. Your sadness is not too small for God, who is great enough to handle all our worries.
If you doubt it, just read through the first few psalms. There are words of thankfulness and deep sighs of discouragement. There is anger and courage. We can pray these prayers with all our feelings just as the writers of the psalms did. God listens. God cares.
That’s not to say that we should get so consumed with our concerns that we ignore the suffering of others. It’s not an either/or situation. It’s a both/and. You can be disappointed about your own loss AND see the deep sorrow of another person’s situation AND be grateful for the good things that are intermingled with the disappointment.
Take your complaints, your worries, your disappointment, and your sadnesses to God. God cares for you.
God, when I am sad or disappointed or anxious, help me share those feelings with you and people I trust. Remind me that you care for all my worries, big or small. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.