By Carrie Ratcliff, Virginia
We hear people complain day in and day out. It’s endless.
I commented once to a complainer who earns a good living—not just a decent living, but a good living—that he should feel grateful for his life, that there are millions, perhaps billions, of people who have far less. His response was that he wasn’t going to make himself feel better by focusing on the suffering of others. Instead, he was going to choose to continue in his perceived state of suffering.
I still cannot fully articulate my disgust at this response. My response was visceral. And it has been with anyone who has expressed anything but gratitude for having air to breathe.
I have heard an expression used many times that seems appropriate. The luxury of despair.
I am dust. I am lower than dust. For me to have air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, and a place to sleep—these are riches far beyond anything I deserve. What I deserve is the grave and what I have far exceeds this.
My life is full of blessings. Nothing but blessings. From my warm bed to the neighbor who torments me, my life is nothing but blessings. My warm bed is the least of my blessings. The neighbor who torments me endlessly is the greatest of blessings. Why? Because she helps me to see that I am nothing but dust, deserving of nothing but the grave. The torment I feel is made-up.
Conflict and suffering are the greatest of all blessings. But not made-up conflict. Not made-up suffering. Made-up conflict is believing that you are entitled to something you don’t have. For someone who has a warm place to sleep, his bills paid, food on the table, water in his glass, and friends at his side—for this man to question whether his life is truly good enough—this is made-up suffering. This is the suffering that makes a mockery of the suffering of Christ. This is the suffering of the insane. For only an insane man could pull the covers up over his head at night, tucked into a bed with a full belly, and despair over his perceived lack.
A sense of entitlement is not suffering. Despair over lack is not suffering. A corpse lacks nothing because a corpse is nothing. If we can see this, we can see that any perceived suffering by a man who is no more than a corpse is made-up suffering. For a corpse to have these things—air to breathe, food to eat, water to drink, and a place to sleep—this corpse should be humbled by the blessings of a generous and loving God. For a man to count his possessions and find he has greater than 90% of the world’s population but to say, “This isn’t enough for me because I deserve far more….” That man is insane. How can he not see the abundance of his blessings and want to share the abundance with others? Instead, he wants to keep it for himself and insist upon having more?
No believer can afford the luxury of despair. The price to be paid is beyond one’s ability to imagine.
The next time you find yourself complaining…see yourself as you truly are: A corpse with air to breathe. And realize the air you breathe is Christ himself, your only life.