I was reminded recently of a truth that you probably know just as well as I.
A phone call from my sister told me about the tragic death of a relative’s husband. I had known that there had been some problems there, but had not realized how serious the situation was. Then, there’s my cousin, who is currently in a serious battle with cancer.
The other afternoon, Terri talked with a neighbor who was out taking a walk. The neighbor related how they were dealing with illness in their family. Then the next day, I was talking to a fellow golfer after we had finished a round of golf. He talked about how over the past couple of years, several friends he used to play golf with have passed away, and how he had been dealing with some physical issues himself recently.
Riding home from the golf course, I thought about the issues that those folks are dealing with, along with some others that people I know are confronting. Then I was reminded of the simple truth. 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 realized that after reading Bill O’Reilly’s two bestselling books, 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, both Lincoln and Kennedy 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. And, I know it’s hard to believe sometimes, there’s always someone out there who has it worse. So, instead of spending time having our own pity party, maybe we can invest some of that time helping those who might have it worse.
Yes, everybody’s got stuff, or had stuff, or will have 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.
But sometime stuff just happens. (Don’t ask me why. I don’t have all the answers like I did when I was younger.) I think about what the people mentioned above are going through, and I wonder if I could handle it. But I remember, there have been times I have been face to face with stuff, really bad stuff, and survived. Not by my own ability, but by the power and grace of God.
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.” Our stuff is an opportunity for Jesus to show his overcoming power through us. And we all have that opportunity at one time or another.
So it’s a simple truth that I’ve known for years. But I need to be reminded of it for my own life, and for those I come into contact with every day. Why? Because everybody’s got stuff.
Mac McPhail, raised in Sampson County, lives in Clinton and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.