I want to save the world. Unfortunately, not in a passion-for-the-underprivileged sort of way, because that might actually be productive and worthwhile.. I mean in a I-feel-responsible-for-everyone’s-sadness way, and .. gah. This effectively makes me a hypocrite, doesn’t it.
“Be thankful because it could be worse” or “you’ve no right to be upset, because other people have it worse”: How could we have let these arguments become of second-nature to us when they make so little sense? How on earth does the knowledge that many other people are worse off than you make you thankful?! And of course: What if, one day, you do have it the worst? Have you then finally earned the right to wallow in self-pity and be emo and cut yourself? These deceptively wise maxims parade around sounding all Perspective-y and Mature, but the truth is they’re an easy way out from the reality of things. Since you’ll probably never be in a position (or at least it’s unlikely) to be 100% certain that you are indeed the biggest sufferer in the entire world in your particular context, the problematic “What if you do have it the worst” bit is effectively avoided and ignored. So no matter why you’re unhappy, people will always be qualified to preach at you that “the situation could have been worse”, thus allowing a diluted and perverted version of what God commands to seep into our belief system. What??
Simply put, we are taught to Give thanks in all circumstances. This is a bit of a shift, for two main reasons: Firstly, the focus is on giving thanks to God and not suppressing our misery; much like the supposedly-subtle-but-actually-very-important difference between love and unselfishness, the big question is Is the focus on God or on me? Secondly, it says all circumstances. Not all circumstances except the worst – if that happens you can stop giving thanks. Clear enough. Example: Job!
But it is thoroughly understandable why this has happened. “Give thanks in all circumstances” is a tall, ridiculous order to the unbeliever. And that is only right: Christians give thanks because of and only because of a belief in God’s holiness and goodness. In mathematical terms, iff 😀 So not only is it understandable for unbelievers to not give thanks in all circumstances, it shouldn’t be otherwise, because that would suggest something is horribly wrong. As a result, this giving thanks command has evolved to suit everyone as a generally “good” and “right” thingy. Okay? NOT OKAY. As Christian we listen to the Word and not the world. We-
(need to go)