It is such a part of our fallen human nature to compare ourselves to others. Unfortunately, the results are frequently to feel either envious of or better than the other. In 2 Corinthians 10:12 Paul said "but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." It is this tendency of comparing that warps our comprehension of God's goodness. Having seen someone who we consider blessed, we form our own conclusion of how God should relate to us – what He should allow or not allow to touch our lives – and if He doesn't measure up to our expectation, we are upset.
A visit to the faith chapter, Hebrews 11, is quite enlightening. Of all the many giants of faith mentioned, one might question why the enormous differences in life outcomes. There were those "Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens" verses 33, 34. But equally giants of faith were "others (who) were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented" verses 35-37. Clearly we cannot measure another's walk with the Lord by their trials or triumphs.
It was just before His ascension to heaven that Jesus informed Peter of his future martyrdom by crucifixion. "Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved . . . saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me" John 21:20-22. It seems that what God desires from each of us is a simple faith and trust in Him to determine what life experiences can have a positive effect for us in the eternal picture of things. Whether we or another are privileged to share in Christ's sufferings or experience a miracle of deliverance from suffering, our mandate is the same, "follow thou Me". With our eyes fixed on Jesus, we can avoid the comparison malady.
Kathryn Irizarry is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.