First World Problems

“What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” That’s from the Bible, Romans 8:31-32.

We Americans have a tendency to relate to what the rest of the world calls “First World Problems.” My iPhone stopped working. There’s no WiFi at this restaurant. The store wouldn’t take my credit card. There’s more month than money. Those kinds of things ruin people’s day. Then there are the poor, all over the world, who struggle just to get enough food in them so they don’t get sick (and die).

Then there are people in war-torn areas of the world, wondering if wandering bands of thugs aren’t going to burst in and kill them in the middle of the night, or take their daughters for sex slavery. They do this day after day.

Then there are victims of natural disasters: earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, tornados, and fires. They might be first world, or third world, but they have lost all they’ve ever owned. When I was thirteen, our apartment building caught fire. At 2 am, firemen were pounding at the door. We left with the clothes on our backs (which were pajamas and robes). We lost just about everything. There are very few pictures of me as a kid because of that one event.

Let’s go back to the verses in Romans. Let’s step back about 250 miles. Because if you travel “up” from the earth 250 miles, everything on the list of “needs” and “all things” become moot. There’s not enough air up there to support life. There’s little protection against harmful radiation. It’s space. Only four to eight people live up there at any given time, and they are well trained for the task.

Let’s go further. The moon is around 238,000 miles away. Nothing lives there. Humans could only survive for a week or so at a time, and had to bring everything with them, leaving most of it behind. Let’s go further. Mars. If anything has ever lived there, we see no evidence of it. Venus. Same. Forget about Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.

In the whole universe, the only life we know of, or have ever known of, is here on the earth. The deepest hole ever dug into the earth only reached 7.5 miles into the crust, and took 24 years to dig. The hole made it about 0.18% of the way to the center of the earth. If the earth was your arm, we would not have scratched it enough to leave a red mark. They had to stop because the 350-plus degree temperatures melted every drill bit they tried.

In 2012, filmmaker James Cameron descended 35,756 feet below the ocean surface to the deepest place in the world: Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep. With a hull pressure of nearly 8 tons per square inch, human life is impossible there. Photosynthesis is impossible for plants. Yet single-cell organisms live at such depths on earth.

We have only explored (and fought over, and exploited, and at times despoiled) the very top of the crust of the earth, and only on the 30 percent where there’s exposed land. We view the oceans as something to be crossed, yet without them life would be impossible. Geologists don’t even know if there are three or 28 oceans’ worth of water subducted under the earth’s crust (because we have only scratched the surface). We don’t know much about the earth’s water filtration system, weather systems, electrical systems, or radiation shield.

We’re really just renters here, residing on a protected pearl shining in the warm light of a star, far enough from the galactic core that we’re not consumed by a black hole or irradiated by dangerous X- and gamma rays.

“How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

We do not pay for the sun’s light, or it’s heat; or the air above us, or the blue in the sky, or the stars at night; or the moon’s reflected illumination; or the sand on the beaches, or the oceans’ tides pulled by the moon; or the mountains, the streams, the rivers, the clouds, or the rain.

We have been given all these things freely, with joy, by He who placed the stars and knows them by name. So much for “First World Problems.”

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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