Health & Wellbeing

Spiritual Matters by Rev Chris Sparks

Priorities – for Life

Our emotions are akin to a rollercoaster ride. And this week, mine took one of those heart-stopping dips at the horror of what I was seeing.
A friend had sent me an e-mail with a Powerpoint attachment that comprised photos of the tsunami that devastated parts of the coast of Japan in 2011 – leaving nearly 20,000 people dead.
It seems these photos have never before been published.
They were truly heart-breaking. The snippets we were fed at the time by media outlets were fleeting – and failed to tell a more comprehensive story of the human suffering involved before other news displaced the coverage. The extent of the destruction in Japan was mind-boggling!
There are of course, a continuing series of natural disasters throughout the world that news outlets bring to our notice as they occur. And one of the latest was the undersea volcanic eruption that created chaos in Tonga. Each one is tragic in its own right. But inevitably, once news coverage slows to a trickle – and then stops altogether, we move on with our lives, mirroring the media’s mandate to march relentlessly to the next dramatic story.
The human toll in each event, however, isn’t so easily left behind by those personally affected. Human tragedy and loss of life continue to linger in the rubble, despair and devastation of each occurrence. And as our own tiny worlds – remote from personal impact – close in on us once again, we lapse again into our obsessions with petty little issues that on their own, are of little or no consequence. Nevertheless, we manage to magnify them out of all proportion and expend much passion chasing what are essentially wispy mischievous pursuits.
So, while many of us are engaging in an indulgent struggle to extract tiny improvements to our already lavish lifestyle, others around the world face the reality of survival and subsistence-living in the wake of natural disasters and atrocities (like the current Ukrainian situation) that effectively sweep every iota of physical comfort and security into oblivion.
Quite a few years ago now, an important book with a weird title surfaced. Entitled “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, (and it’s all small stuff)” it was written by Richard Carlson with the intention of helping us all to lift our eyes to the important things of life rather than become bogged down with the inconsequential. He makes the point that we tend to believe that if we were somewhere else – on holiday, with another partner, in a different career, a different home, a different circumstance – somehow, we would be happier and more content. Bluntly, Carlson says: “We wouldn’t!”
And this is exactly what Jesus was on about as he patiently helped his disciples to sort out what is really important in life. He was at pains to urge them not to be anxious about their personal circumstances but to focus on the big picture – paying close attention to our relationships with each other – and especially with God the Father.
There is no simple answer to the human suffering that follows the many crises that regularly rock the Third Rock from the Sun. But if everyone spent a little more time and effort addressing the big issues in life like acknowledging and worshipping God as Lord and Creator, lived responsibly in accord with God’s will and plan, looking after each other, and acting with life-changing generosity to those in need, the third rock would be a far better place. Harmony would prevail, and the needs and desires of us all would be totally satisfied.
And isn’t this what we all need?  Yes?