A few weeks ago, I got sick with a fever that wouldn’t go away. On one of the worst nights of my sickness, I slipped away to the couch, so that my tossing and turning wouldn’t wake up my husband.
I tried ibuprofen. I tried Tylenol. I lit a fire in the fireplace. I tried cough drops and hot tea. And finally, the very last thing I tried was prayer.
I am not proud to say that prayer was my last line of offense.
I know I’m not alone in the this. Sometimes, we don’t pray because we overestimate our self-sufficiency. Other times, we undervalue God’s concern to tend to the little things in our lives.
It goes like this:
We tend to grade matters by their seeming significance. Grade-A Matters are things like war, injustice, kids with cancer, and failing marriages. Those things are important and deserve our attention with prayer. But the truth is, even when the world at large is suffering, we’ve all got something going on – right this very second. And it all matters to God, even the things you think are Grade-D Matters.
Know this: God’s hands are large enough to hold all the Grade-D Matters – the late-night fevers, your concerns over your kids’ grades, that plumbing problem in the basement, or the fact that your friend hasn’t returned your texts.
So I have a question for you: How are you really doing right now with “the other stuff” going on in your life, the Grade-D Matters?
When something big happens in our world or our community, we tend to minimize “the other stuff.” We don’t want to burden our friends, or God, by letting them know what else hurts right now.
I’ve said it before, but there have been times in my life when I’ve been reluctant to share with my Bible study girls about an emotional struggle, because someone else was just diagnosed with cancer. I categorized my pain as Grade D, and hers as Grade A.
I’ll tell myself things like, “I shouldn’t be this sad or worried. It could be worse.”
It’s also possible that you’ve been the victim of the “my life is harder than yours” game. It happens when you share your hard, but according to someone else, it isn’t hard enough compared to what they’re going through.
We do ourselves a disservice as sisters when we track each other’s pain along a scale, as if it can be easily categorized along one of those smiley-face charts on a doctor’s office wall.
Here’s the thing: God doesn’t stop caring about your “other stuff” just because other people, this nation, and this world are walking through really big trials. Hard things in other people’s lives do not negate the pain you are carrying personally:
With your finances.
With your baby’s erratic sleep schedule.
With your anxiety.
With the disagreement you had with your dad.
With the pressure of those deadlines.
With your ANYTHING.
Recently, I read Paul’s second letter to his buddy Timothy. He spends most of the letter writing about the big stuff: godlessness in the last days, suffering for the gospel, sound preaching. And then, toward the end, he gives Timothy a final instruction: “Bring the cloak that I left… also the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13, ESV).
It’s the cloak that gets me.
At this point in the biblical narrative, Paul was an older fellow getting close to dying while locked up in a cold prison — and his only coat was many miles away.
I don’t know why that bit about the cloak is in there, but I do believe that Scripture is God-breathed, and that every word is there for a reason — even the hardest and weirdest parts of the Bible. Every word has something to teach us about God or ourselves.
I wonder if that tiny sentence about the cloak is one way that God is letting us know that the little things matter. Little things like coats, new tires for your car, your class schedule, your job, and a fever that won’t let up.
God is big enough to care about the little things.
Nothing is too big for our Lord. And nothing is too small either.