One of Dan’s pet-peeves in college was telling someone, “I’m so tired,” and getting the response, “You’re tired? I stayed up all night finishing a paper and just finished taking 2 tests! I’m tired!” At this point, he most likely sarcastically replied, “You’re right. I’m actually not tired anymore. Thanks.” (As if someone feeling more tired than Dan abates Dan’s own tiredness).
I thought about this after a phone conversation I had recently with my Dad. I was sharing with him some of the more intimate details and emotions of the last few weeks. Dan and I have been asking God what our next season looks like, and when He spoke of things unexpected, the mist fell. We knew we were still following, but what was around us, and what was ahead, had lost some visibility. As we have been trying to reorient ourselves, we have met excitement, discouragement, suspense, disappointment, and hope along the way. This particular conversation with my Dad had more to do with our run-in with disappointment. One of the last things he said to me was, “It’s hard…but think how much harder it is for the people in Japan.”
So I have been thinking about comparison. Resist him (the devil), firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:9 This is what came to mind first, and without thinking about it I subbed in worse for same. Worse kinds of suffering, much worse than my own, are being experienced throughout the world. In Japan. In Libya. In the lives of our own friends and family. We know an incredibly strong and faith-full couple who have stood bravely as their baby has endured 2 open heart surgeries. We know another young couple with their first baby, a baby whose Dad now battles stage 4 cancer. We know of a young woman whose husband was just violently and senselessly murdered. And we watch on the news as men and women across the globe live through traumatic and devastating natural disasters. And as I compare my “suffering” with theirs, I begin to feel silly.
But just for a moment.
And then I remember who my Dad is. And my heart is wrecked when I hear Him say, “I care.” God doesn’t rank sin. He says lustful intent is adultery. Anger is murder. Well, I don’t think He ranks my suffering either. When He says He has come to bind up the brokenhearted, I think He means the Jr. High girl who just got her heart broken by a silly boy and the orphan and widow in Japan who have lost everything. When He says He has come to proclaim liberty to captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound, I think He means the guy who is enslaved to lust and the girl who is literally enslaved in the sex trade. When He says He has come to comfort all who mourn, I think He means the mom whose last child has just gone off to college and the Dad who just buried his only son. My pain is not overlooked because someone’s pain is greater.
This is what I love about Him. However silly my situation or my feelings seem in comparison to the larger plights of the world, He still sees me, too.
So today, I’m thankful for comparison. I’m thankful that through right comparison God gives me perspective on my problems, showing me I’m not alone in my pain, exposing my heaviness as lighter than it feels, and revealing His consuming love and desire for intimate relationship with me. He cares about my headache when His other child’s heart is failing. He cares about my disappointment when His other child’s livelihood is destroyed. And as he heals me, restores me, comforts me, and fills me with faith, He then says, “And look around you,” sending me out with authority to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to comfort all who mourn, to raise up the former devastations. He is so good and always true to His nature.
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