I was pleasantly surprised by a gift shared with me by a member of our community. It was a book she read and thought that I would enjoy. The book is It’s Better Than It Looks by Gregg Easterbrook. While we are bombarded daily by all the things that go wrong in our world, Easterbrook shows evidence through his research that the world is actually in a better place than we think and the biggest challenge facing us is our perspective. Here is one of the examples he uses, “Ninety percent of the world lived in extreme poverty 150 years ago, while 10 percent lived well. The extreme-poverty share began a mild decline around the turn of the twentieth century; by the onset of World War II, only three-quarters of the global population lived in destitution, while one-quarter enjoyed good material circumstances. The crossover moment-when more people had achieved a decent living standard than were living in destitution-came sometime in the 1970s. By 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available, complete reversal had occurred -only 10 percent of the global population lived in extreme poverty, rather than 90 percent, as once was the case…this trend works out to about 130,000 people escaping from poverty each day for the last twenty-five years.” Even though the suffering of the 10 percent is significant, and we must work on eradicating all such pain, it is important for us to not be so jaded by negative news and views. If we believe that the world is such a disaster and a great mess, we lose our ability to use the opportunities in front of us. As Franklin Roosevelt said in 1938, “We observe a world of opportunities disguised as insoluble problems.” This could apply to all aspects of our lives where our perspective could help or hinder our ability to embrace the opportunities God gives us each day to live full and meaningful lives.
Faith is about a change in our perspective and the way we see the world and our lives. It is about seeing that our cup runs over with goodness and mercy even in the presence of all of our fears and challenges (Psalm 23). In this season of Thanksgiving and stewardship, I invite you to give thanks for all that is going well in your life, in our world, and in our church. Ponder the great opportunities that lie in front of us disguised as problems. Allow God to transform your perspective from that of scarcity and of only seeing the problems to a view of abundance of how God is calling you to use the opportunities we have. When things don’t go the way you expect, pause to see where God is calling you to grow into new possibilities. The next time you catch yourself stuck in despair, complaining, fear, or anxiety, pray the words of Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Allow God to help you see where you can use your energy to build up the kingdom of God right here in our world and in our church with all their challenges and all their opportunities.
Pastor Roula Alkhouri