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First world problems pale compared to real strife

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By Nancy Kennedy

Today I’m suffering First World Problems. To name a few:
I noticed too late that the gray of my shirt does not match the gray of my pants. Also? I left the house without wearing any bracelets, so not only am I color uncoordinated, but I have naked wrists.
Those are First World Problems, a meme (idea that spreads through the culture) that’s spreading across the Internet, spawning some really funny stuff. One site posts some of the best ones, all accompanied by photos of very sad, pathetic-looking people sobbing because the pizza box doesn’t fit in the fridge or the restaurant didn’t have Dr. Pepper so the person had to drink Pepsi.
First World Problems (FWP).
In other words, the triviality that spoiled, self-centered, generally middle-class white Americans overly concern ourselves with — the DVR shut off before the re-run of Law and Order from 1998 ended and I didn’t get to find out the verdict and who know when it’ll be on again.
How tragic is my life?!
Um, not at all.
Except earlier this week my daughter moved to Hawaii, 4,700 miles away from me, and even though for the past three years she lived in Virginia 800 miles away, we were at least still in the same time zone on the same continent.
It’s a First World Problem, but I’m sad. The FWP meme on the Internet is a clever, snarky commentary on our culture, about how, compared to probably 90 percent of the world’s population we have nothing to complain about. We are rich and have more than enough of everything.
I’m all for putting life’s trivialities into perspective, and I do love the opportunity to point out to others when they’re making too much of insignificant, inconsequential things.
However, as Christianity Today blogger Caryn Rivadeneira recently wrote in a post about her own First World Problems, while the meme is useful for putting our small, petty problems in perspective against the world’s real problems like poverty, hunger, homelessness, slavery and devastation from man-made and natural disasters — and we should — it also puts a guilt trip on people who are nevertheless hurting.
Small problems or tiny heartaches still hurt. They’re still ours, and God still cares about them because he cares about us.
Jesus told his followers that if God cares about insignificant sparrows (which he does), he will surely care about you and me (Luke 12:6-8, my paraphrase).
Because we matter to God, what matters to us matters to him, even the smallest matters. Yes, the world is terribly broken and sad and people are suffering horrifically, and I’m sad that my daughter moved away — and thankful that God cares about it all.

 Nancy Kennedy is a syndicated church columnist.