Friday, January 12, 2007

Putting first things first

As I was finishing my charting at the hospital today, the head nurse came and whispered in my ear most sincerely, “Please pray that next week will be a better week.”

The staff dealt with increased numbers of virulent infections and there were some very sick people admitted. A new physician needed to be oriented to the floor and overworked people were getting irritable. A recent management change is not working out as well as expected, and budget time is approaching quickly.

I am not surprised when I hear of people retiring from stressful jobs in the corporate world or in health care. We all daydream about an idyllic existence, free of stress, where we are in control of all our time and have no financial worries. And we want this to happen before we are too old to enjoy it.

When I travel, I like to take pictures of people at work. In many poorer countries, an existence is eked out day by day, often by selling items on the streets or in markets. Last year, I was approached by a tiny girl, no older than 5 or 6, who offered cough drops for sale as I sat in a shoe store in Mexico. I feel so excessively rich when I walk by the poor and find it hard not to offer a handout, even if I do want their wares.

I have also noticed that many of these people lead contented and happy lives. They are not in pursuit of the many things we fill our lives with in first world countries. Our high standard of living, while comfortable, requires a lot of effort and money to maintain.

The Bible’s cure for anxiety is found in words from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 6. This lesson is harder for the rich than for the poor, as we try to look after our needs and desires completely on our own. Is it any wonder that we feel stressed?

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not worth much more than they?
And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
And why are you worried about clothing?
Observe how the lilies of the field grow;
they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you
that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass of the field,
which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace,
will He not much more clothe you?
You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’
or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’
For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things;
for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.


  1. It certainly does seem that those who have little are more grateful for what they DO have, doesn't it? We should all remember to count our blessings.

  2. Oh, this is so great. When I lived in Maryland, on my way to the pool for Gina's swim practice, I passed along the way some run-down shacks that people lived in. They were despressing places from the outside. Then one day I drove by around Christmastime and saw some of them gloriously lit up with inexpensive decorations and it made my heart warm to know that someone on those homes were happy souls.

  3. Anonymous7:27 pm GMT-5

    Very nice thoughts here, and much for people to think about.

  4. Recently we have been having many discussions along the same vien. My favorite comment when referring to all many North American's accumulate is "wood, hay & stubble".
    Excellent blog Body Soul & Spirit

  5. Jayne- It is so easy to fall into a complaining mode. We are so blessed but I think advertisers and "the Joneses" keep us wanting more and more.

    Mary- I visit the poor in our area as well, and they are often gracious and generous. Contentment cannot be bought.

    Laura- Thanks...much for me to think about to

    Oma Lois- We cannot take a thing with us when we go. Better to find that incorruptible treasure!


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