Billions of people on earth; no two stories exactly the same. When we woke up this morning, there were some grieving and some celebrating. Many people have more money and “stuff” than they know what to do with; yet no more than a few miles away, their neighbor might be wondering where their next meal will come from.
You do not have to glance at your computer (or phone) screen for long to find someone whose life looks differently than yours. At times, we watch videos of refugees and cancer and disability and murder and confusion, and if we are honest, we say a silent, ‘thanks’ for the things that our yesterdays did not hold. We feel bad for those whose normal looks so other.
Other days, we see vacations and children and parents and parties, smiles and seemingly fun times flooding across our page views, and we feel like we are missing out. We wonder how we ended up with this story and they ended up with that one. We do a silent weighing in of the surface, and it’s pretty obvious to us that we come out less.
Right around the time of the girls’ first birthday, I started playing the comparison game. I would look at those around me, particularly the ones with two and a half kids and a white picket fence, and yearn for a life that appeared practically flawless.
I realize that everyone has their own stuff and no one’s life is perfect, yet from my perspective, their stuff looked a heck of a lot more appealing than my own.
It was not until I changed measuring tools that I became free.
‘To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with Him? Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told to you from the beginning? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness. To whom then will you compare me that I should be like Him? Says the Holy One.’- pieces of Isaiah 40
Nailed to a tree for the sins of all, not a drop of guilt His own yet every wrong, every death, every mistake, pierced into the very core of who He was.
This Jesus. This Jesus who in a moment took on the pain and stain of all evil and all hurt so that we could move forward, forgiven and free from the things that we could have never escaped from on our own. This Jesus. This fully God, fully man, Holy One, who was there before the foundations of the earth and still chooses to be there in the midst of all of our moments. This Jesus who offers to be our refuge when all around us seems to be caving in. The only One who had every right to compare yet chose to stay silent and trust, knowing eternity awaited.
To whom shall we compare Him?
The short answer is, no one.
No one compares.
“When I got so fixated on comparing how hard our life was in light of someone else’s, I was brought to despair. When I thought of Christ and the hope and purpose He brings, the fog was lifted, and I felt free. The thing is this: we are right in thinking that there may be people around us suffering less; but as I have said before, for every person that suffers less, you can find someone who has suffered more. Beyond that, in comparison to Christ and how He suffered for us, all our trials are rags. Because of His death on the cross, we are promised that all tribulations are light and momentary but serve an eternal purpose. Furthermore the purpose of our suffering is to make us more like Christ, not more likely to be bitter at the cup in our hands. It is to make us more compassionate for those around us, not to formulate our own measuring stick of comparison in which we determine who is suffering more.’- On Milk and Honey, p.61-62
We must throw away our own determinations of what is fair and what is not. After all, from a human view, was it fair that Jesus took on the faults and messes of imperfect humans? Did it seem appropriate for Jesus to die so that we could live? Of course not! Yet His ways are not ours. He is good. He knows best. His perspective is a heavenly One and because He experienced the greatest suffering of all time, He now sits at the right hand of the Father while all the saints cry out, ‘Holy, holy, holy’.
When we cease comparing we begin truly living.
We we stop looking at our neighbor to determine whether or not our lives are blessed, we recognize how unbelievably blessed we are.
In Christ, we have been given all things.
I am not saying it is easy.
It’s a battle that I fight each and every day; and some days, I find myself suffocated by my own grasshopper perspective.
He assures me that the battle is not my own and He is fighting for me.
In light of the One to whom NONE can compare; we can eliminate our own comparison games and instead, give Him gracious praise for having the ability to choose all things for each of us according to His perfect plan and impeccable perspective.
Through Him and Him alone.
And when we don’t?
Grace. Always grace to trust Him to do what only He can do.
His mercies are new every day.
This week, the Personal Growth Challenge is this: Each morning, write a list of things that you are naturally grateful for (the things that naturally FEEL like blessings). Then, write below those things the hard things in your life- whatever those may be. They can be as big as a terminal diagnosis or as small as an ulcer in your mouth. Once you are finished writing (this list can be as long as you would like!) I want you to say each of these things, both the seemingly easy and seemingly hard, and say after each of them, “Thank You Lord- for this I am grateful. Help me to see this from Your Holy perspective and not my own”.
The Community Growth Challenge is to have a conversation with someone about at least two things on that list you wrote- one thing from the “naturally easy” portion and one from the “hard” portion. Ask them what they would have on their list as well.
The Pay-It-Forward Challenge may seem simple, but if you are like me, is harder than you realize: Go into a conversation with someone you are close to with the full intention of listening to them talk about their stuff. Do not listen for a while and then talk about YOU- simply take in what they are saying and offer a safe place for them to be loved. You will probably find when you aren’t thinking of YOU in the midst of it, you are able to love that person in their own journey much more fully.
Friends, may we fixate our hearts on the God who cannot be compared to any instead of comparing the details of our journeys with those around us.
He is good in all things.
“The Lord is the strength of His people; He is the saving refuge of His anointed. Oh, save Your people and bless Your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever.”- Psalm 28:8-9