First World Problems


A while back I shattered my iPhone screen three times in one week. The first time I got it fixed, the repair guys sold me a screen protector. The second time that week, they gave me a discount. The third time they recommended a support group. (Yes, I'm exaggerating a little, they didn't offer me a discount.)

Just so you get a picture of the situation...three screens equals about $300...about three days without my phone...three days with no immediate access to texts, emails, or social media. If I were popular, this would've been even worse, but fortunately, popularity left me in the fifth grade.

My whole week's schedule became centered around going to and from the repair shop...that plus the activity of actually destroying my screen, of course. Suffice it to say it was a real hassle, and it challenged my usual joyful attitude, which is a nice way to say I whined about it a lot.

When I got my iPhone back for the final time, I immediately opened up a news app to see how far behind the rest of the world I'd become. One of the first articles I read was about the displacement of Syrians fleeing ISIS. 4.4 million men, women, and children--families with the same hopes and dreams as us--persecuted and brutalized in unspeakable ways, forced to abandon everything and run. Many fled to Turkey hoping to find passage across the Mediterranean Sea to the islands of Greece, the nearest country of the European Union. Here they hoped to travel north through Macedonia to other European countries and, hopefully, a new life. The reality is many of these families are living in tents along Greece's now-closed northern border, sharing a single bathroom among hundreds of people. They're alive, but not much more. Refugees, robbed of dignity, hope and almost everything you and I take for granted.

Reading this, I was immediately confronted by the relativity of my problems. A broken iPhone screen, really!? Was I actually lamenting the "burden" on my time and budget caused by the lack of my handheld computer that allows me to video chat at will with my daughter on the other side of the planet and watch Netflix wherever and whenever I want? What's worse, I'm pretty sure I complained that week about some other first-world problems, but I'm too embarrassed to admit them.

So what's my point? I don't really have a point, I'm just making a confession. Here in suburbia, my worldview can become so myopic (Mrs. Brown, my 11th grade English teacher, would be proud I finally found a way to use "myopic" in a sentence) that I lose a sense of the broader, often painful picture multitudes are facing in the world today. The words "pain" and "trouble" get redefined when I look beyond my zipcode; and they need to be. What's more, I'm convinced God didn't put me in one of the wealthiest places on the planet so I can spend all my money on myself. I'm pretty sure he's wanting to see what I'll do with it, and he's inviting me to be his hands and feet in the world. I don't want to be consumed or maybe even deceived by first-world problems. And I don't want only to be moved emotionally by the heartache of the world but carry on with a myopic worldview (That's twice, Mrs. Brown!). I want to do something about it. I want to change. I want to be found faithful.

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10 Feb 2017


By Kirk Freeman