I am a privileged, American Catholic.
I don’t worry about having enough food for myself or my family, I have central heat and air in my lovely home, and enjoy a number of other luxuries in life.
Any discrimination I may face for my faith pales in comparison to true persecution experienced by Christians around the world, with the faithful in Sri Lanka being prime in the news after recent bombings in several church parishes that took the lives of so many people, including innocent children. This of course on the heels of the devastating fire that threatened to demolish Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris – a beloved piece of Christian history cherished around the world.
That’s when I started noticing a number of memes popping up in social media that compared the two losses, stating that we should be more concerned about human life than man-made buildings. There was a tone of shaming in some of them, as though anyone recognizing the loss of a holy building has their priorities out of whack.
Point taken. There’s truth there, and it’s the same truth that humbles me as I’m going to God with my own sufferings in prayer.
Things could be much worse. I have it good compared to so many others. Material things aren’t eternal. Souls come first. It’s good to re-adjust one’s perspective when you feel a pity-party coming on.
But something bothered me about these memes.
Is it that they imply that I can only mourn one kind of loss and not another? Maybe that God thinks we look silly to feel sadness over relatively smaller sufferings when there is much bigger turmoil to concern ourselves with?
When I cry to God about my personal struggles with depression, parenting woes, or occasional financial stress, for instance, do I hear a voice from heaven that shouts “Suck it up, buttercup! I have bigger fish to fry”? I can honestly say that I never once have felt this from God.
I may be hard on myself, but when I go to God in prayer, I always feel a loving embrace and voice of gentleness encouraging me onward and reassuring me of His love for me.
He always sees me right where I am, even in my privileged, American life.
I have so much to be thankful for. As I cry my tears and wipe my puffy eyes while sipping wine in my king-size bed, it’s a good thing I worship a God that doesn’t compare my sufferings or wants to the family down the street or the person living in impoverished China. I’d be in real trouble.
When God talks to me, he sees me, with my own unique strengths, weaknesses, joys, and losses, and loves me like only a Heavenly Father can.
Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”