First World Problems

Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to Him. Rom. 12:2 (CEV)

We like to keep on hand a tub of Nestle Toll House cookie dough in the fridge. That way, we can always eat them soft and warm, right out of the oven. I’m kind of picky about it, too. I mean, I figure if we’re gonna go to the trouble of spooning them onto a cookie sheet, turning on the oven, and then remembering to get back up to pull them out and everything, they better be just right. Just right, to me, is light brown and still a little squishy. You could say I like my cookies medium rare. My family knows this, and has been trained accordingly in the skill of cookie baking. Not too long ago, Abby made a batch after dinner. When she told me they were ready, and I came to get some, I noticed that this current batch was about two shades darker than my well-noted favorite, medium rare.

I said, “Uh oh, looks like these stayed in about a minute too long.” Abby quickly deadpanned, “First world problems, mom.”

First world problems – it’s a common phrase these days, and one of the most popular hashtags on Twitter. It also reveals a lot about our culture, and about me. Sure, it was just a quip, but my disappointment (whether feigned or real) when a cookie is cooked a little more than I like, the DVR fails to record the show I wanted to watch, and the M&M dispenser on my desk is empty says some things about me. My irritation when, out of a closet full of clothes, I can’t find anything to wear, the Internet runs slowly, my shower won’t get steamy in the winter, and the drive-thru at Chick-fil-A is at least 10 minutes long offers some insight, too.

We are a privileged people; spoiled, too. These are definitely first world problems; when Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:24), He was talking about you and me. I want to say, like Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need” (Phil. 4:11,12). But my first world problems betray me.

Thankfully, I don’t have to give up fresh-baked cookies to find contentment in Christ. Neither do you have to move to a third world country to live in a way that is good and pleasing to God. But what if you determined to go a whole day without getting annoyed by something petty, like traffic, spilled coffee, or having to stand in line at the grocery store? What if, instead of being disappointed when things don’t go your way, you focus on the reasons why God is worthy of your praise? What if you set aside your wants in order to meet someone else’s needs? What if you let God change the way you think?

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