Saturday, March 26, 2011

Crisis and Complaining—the "5% rule"

At times I do quite well at expressing my dissatisfaction with things that are not the way they should be, otherwise known as complaining. A quick evaluation of my complaints reveals what I call the "5% rule": I tend to forget or take for granted the 95% of what is going well, and focus on the 5% of what is not going well. Now, those figures are arbitrary, but they serve to make a point: What we have (or better yet, what we've been given) is much, much greater than what we don't have.

In a time of crisis my complaining about the 5% I'm not happy with is all the more inappropriate. For example:
  • I have life. Many have just lost theirs.
  • I have a family. Thousands of families have lost a spouse, a child, a parent, a brother or sister.
  • I have my health. We are beginning to get the stories of people dying due to the stress of living in shelters, especially the elderly. Colds and flu are spreading due to the close quarters.
  • I have many choices of what clothing to wear. Many who survived did so with only the clothes they had on at the time.
  • I have heat, water and electricity. It has been very cold in the affected areas, and the shelters do not have adequate heat. Those who are able have returned to their homes, but are without basic utilities.
  • I have a supportive community. In the hardest hit areas the entire community is being fragmented and divided as people move to other areas. Some will never come back.
  • Most of all, I HAVE HOPE. I can't imagine what those who have suffered loss are thinking and feeling right now. Relief workers bring food and water, but who can bring hope? Only those who know the Source of Life and Hope.
I say this not to create shame or guilt, but to remind myself of how blessed, how rich I am. The proper response to being richly blessed is not guilt, but gratitude. Then, out of a heart of gratitude I can bless others with the blessing I have received. "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap." (Luke 6:38)

We've all been given so much already, but God says if we give to others he will overflow our life of blessing so that we have even more to give to others. I am encouraged when I see  those whose life of blessing overflows to bless those around them. I'm grateful for those who have stood with us for many years, praying, giving, and encouraging, so that we can be here now "for such a time as this." I'm grateful for the outpouring of love and prayer we have received, and for the wonderful response of God's people to the needs in Japan at the present time.

Let's look past the things we're not happy with and remember the great blessings we have received, and then let those blessings overflow to bless others in need.

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