I finally got my new computer exactly as I wanted it to be – all the programs and data in place – when suddenly the screen froze. When it rebooted I stared in dismay at the message on the screen: “Hard drive not installed.” What? I did what everyone else would do in such circumstances – I restarted the laptop, hoping against hope that the result would be different. It wasn’t. Many reboots later I resigned myself to the reality that my new computer was dead. Since I had bought it online, returning it wasn’t as easy as simply driving back to the store.
Life is full of unexpected difficulties like the one I described above. It’s so easy to treat every setback as if it were a major tragedy, when in reality it isn’t. So when situations like this arise, I try to keep it all in perspective instead of letting anger or fear take control. Towards this end I always tell myself something like, “No one died!” or “I wasn’t diagnosed with a fatal illness.” A dead computer is certainly inconvenient, but it’s no real disaster. To help with this proper attitude I also remind myself that God is with me in the midst of my problem, and He will help me through.
Keeping the right perspective doesn’t come naturally; it’s something I have to work at. Let me share another recent example. I was driving to a conference and going through a little town. A car tailgating me was pushing me to go faster than I normally would (at least that’s my excuse). I was approaching an intersection when suddenly…flash! A traffic enforcement camera had gone off. I was quite irritated, and I sure wasn’t feeling gratitude towards the driver behind me who had been so helpful in making me go fast! But instead of dwelling on the pain that this would cause my pocketbook, I told myself that I hadn’t had an accident, I wasn’t lying in some hospital somewhere, it was just a speeding ticket and lost money. Damaging – yes, but no catastrophe.
There will always be pesky situations that arise and disrupt the smooth sailing of our day. If we’re not careful, we can let them become much bigger than they really are, causing us to be more stressed than the circumstances deserve. Life is too short for that! Yes, they’re inconvenient and painful (I still don’t have a computer as I write this), but I have found that when I keep them in the right perspective, the worry and anger associated with them go away more easily.
A favorite passage that has always helped me deal with the uncertainties of life is Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.