I was a little late arriving in our Sunday School class this past Sunday. The class hadn’t started yet, but just about every seat was taken in the large classroom. Having food does tend to get the people there on time, especially the sausage biscuits. As I got my biscuit and found a seat at the back of the classroom, Alfredo started with the announcements and prayer requests.
One by one, prayer requests were given. There were requests for friends and family members suffering with serious illnesses, like cancer. There were also individual requests for personal health situations and other needs. As the requests were being made, from my seat in the back, I glanced around the classroom, almost completely filled with probably around fifty people. While there were several needs mentioned, there were many more that were not. I know almost all the people in the class, and am familiar with many of the situations they are facing. Some are continuing to deal with the loss of a spouse. Others are facing ongoing financial situations, personal physical and difficult family issues.
As I sit there looking around the classroom listening to the requests for prayer, I am aware of many of the difficulties facing many of the members of the Sunday School class. But I am also just as certain that there are many more difficulties in their lives that I am unaware of. Then the thought hit me. Not a new one, but one that I need to be reminded of from time to time. It’s real simple, “Everybody’s got stuff.”
Everybody has got stuff. You know what stuff is. It’s those things that make our life more difficult than we think it ought to be. I can spend time getting more specific about it, but I think you already know what stuff is, because you have seen it in your life. If you don’t at this present time, you have had in the past and the odds are, you will in the future. It’s not being negative, just realistic. Remember, Jesus said, “In this life, you will have trouble.” (Don’t get too depressed, there’s some very good news in the rest of the verse.)
Everybody’s got stuff, even presidents. I’ve recently finished reading Bill O’Reilly’s two bestsellers, Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy. Not only having to deal with national issues, like the Civil War and the Cuban missile crisis, the two presidents dealt with personal and family issues. Lincoln and Kennedy had stuff, too. Abraham Lincoln had to deal with a wife who had emotional and mental problems, and had a son die while he was in office. John Kennedy had a back injury and had to deal with severe pain on a daily basis. He also had an infant son who died while he was in office. Oh yeah, you think you’ve got stuff, they both were assassinated.
Since everybody has got stuff, maybe I should look at my difficulties in a different light. First, realize that I’m not the only one with a problem. I’m not saying I’m glad that you also have problems. But it is somewhat comforting to know that I’m not the only one who is having, have had, or will face difficulties. It’s good not to feel like you’re the only one in that boat.
Second, maybe I need to cancel that pity party. Alonzo Mourning was a NBA basketball star. At the end of a successful basketball career he had to battle with kidney failure. Rather than having that pity party, he said, “You may think you have it rough, but there’s always someone out there who has it worse.” I read that quote when I was going through a particularly tough period in my life and it helped. Because it’s true, there’s always someone out there who has it worse. And instead of spending so much time having our own pity party, maybe we can invest that time wisely, helping those that do have it worse.
Yes, everybody’s got stuff, but it’s still smart to try to avoid it, if we can; especially the self inflicted kind. Making wise financial, health and personal decisions (and sometimes just not being stupid) can go a long way in making our lives not so difficult.
So stuff is a part of our lives. And Jesus said we would have trouble. But that’s not the whole verse. In Luke 16:33, Jesus proclaims, “In the world you will have tribulation; be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” During the prayer at the beginning of the class last Sunday, Danny prayed, “God, what we view as obstacles, you view as opportunities.” Our stuff is an opportunity for Jesus to show his overcoming power through us. And we all have that opportunity. Because everybody’s got stuff.