When I was in high school I had a t-shirt that said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. It was very much a product of its time, with tie-dye coloring and a large peace sign behind the words. I wore it proudly, thinking it reflected the laid-back, 70's mentality well. As the world changed, my mindset did as well, and I eventually got rid of the shirt. But over the years, I've often thought of that shirt, and have come to the conclusion that the message it proclaimed was actually very good advice.
The reality is, our everyday lives are full of small frustrations and set-backs. And as they come up, we have two choices: we can get frustrated, or we can let them roll off our backs. For the Christian, the choice is clear - we need to choose to ignore these frustrations. Why? Because ignoring the small frustrations in life allows our patience to grow, and God calls us to be people of patience. Colossians 3:12 puts it like this, “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and PATIENCE.” So when we “don't sweat the small stuff” we are actually living how God has called us to live.
I was pondering all of this today as I was busy getting things done, and trying hard to not sweat the small frustrations that were coming my way. But as I did so I was struck with the question, “What about the big things in life that we just can’t ignore? How do we remain patient when the big stuff comes along?” It's something worth considering as we regularly face things that have a much bigger impact on us than a small irritation in life. So how do we remain patient in those situations? As I pondered that question, I was reminded of the Israelites and their departure from Egypt. And the more I thought about that situation, the more I realized that it's actually an excellent example of remaining patient when facing a big challenge.
Here’s why I say that: the Israelites were trying to leave Egypt, but their departure seemed blocked by the Red Sea. As they were standing on the edge, wondering how to get across, their patience must have been greatly tested by the knowledge that the Egyptians were hot on their trail. So how could they remain patient in a situation like that? Well, it seems some of the Israelites had that same question because in Exodus 14:13-14 Moses addressed this very issue when he told them, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
With those words, Moses helps us understand how to handle the “big stuff” in life: we stand firm in the knowledge that God is with us and will deliver us. And then, we do one of the hardest things God calls us to do - we wait for Him. It's not that we don't continue to ask God for help, and it's not that we don't continue to look around to see what God might be doing to help us. But underneath all of that we maintain an attitude of patience - of waiting on God to keep His promises to us. That’s how we can “not sweat the big stuff” in life.
So today, let's ask God to help us be patient in both the small and the big things of life that we’re facing. Let's ask Him to help us be still, and wait on Him to provide in His perfect way, and perfect timing.