I recently read a heart felt blog post from a Christian mother of young kids. She wrote about how she was torn between schooling choices for her kids and was racked with anxiety. Her testimony is that God met her in that anxious place and gave her peace, letting her know He had the whole thing in His sovereign hands. Good, normal story of having faith. In the comments, however, someone felt the need to critique her account of finding God’s peace by calling it a “First World Problem”. Apparently calling things First World Problems is a thing now. (S)He then proceeded to remind everyone how some kids don’t even get to go to school, yadda, yadda, yadda… Said blogger capably answered snarky commenter with grace and so that was that.
But it did leave me thinking, what about our First World trials? Some in the world may barely live through the day therefore are our lesser problems not worthy of mention? I don’t know about that. As a father of two little ones I can say that the smallest parental concerns become big tests for trusting God. I pastor a church where children under five might be the biggest demographic. Many of my flock are filled with deep concern for their kids. We all live in the relative peace and prosperity of the First World so none of our kids will starve. It leaves me wondering:
Does dismissing something as a ‘first world problem’ reduce anxiety?
Does dismissing a ‘first world problem’ actually help anyone with greater ‘third world problems’?
My answer to both those questions is that I don’t think it does.
Of course, gaining perspective can help but it seems to me that in whatever concerns us is our testing ground of faith. I write this in the midst of a very First World Problem. I’m waiting to hear if an offer will be accepted to purchase our first house. Much of the world doesn’t have adequate housing but knowing that isn’t what will help me sleep. Believing that God cares for me and knows my needs (even before I ask) might help, though.
A woman’s concerns about her children’s schooling, my need for God to provide the right house, whatever can cause anxiety, these are testing grounds for our faith in the God Who Provides. We are commanded to cast our cares on Him and be anxious for nothing. There is no virtue in this obedience unless we are in places where we meet our anxieties. God cares about all our problems, First World Ones included.