Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” John 21:20-23
Comparison is a dangerous game. If we compare our strengths to others’ weaknesses, we get a false sense of how good we are. If we compare our weaknesses to others’ strengths, we become easily defeated.
Life is not fair. Good people sometimes lose their jobs. Corrupt people sometimes become wealthy. Healthy people sometimes die young. Godly people sometimes suffer more than sinners. But, what if life is not about fairness? What if God isn’t grading on the bell curve? What if His plan for each of us is unique?
When our oldest son was a baby, he spent the first few months in intensive care. Those were some of our darkest days. Early on, we didn’t know if he would even survive. Each day we didn’t know whether to expect improvement or crisis. These feelings came to be known as “emotional whiplash.”
In all of this, I learned a profound lesson. Please understand as a parent facing the uncertainty of my child’s fate, I was in no mood for profound lessons. I preferred a bailout to a proverb.
When most of us are in crisis, the question we ask is “Why?” That’s natural. “Why are bad things happening?” Then, we up the ante. “If God loves me, then why are bad things happening?” We know that bad things are happening, so we’re really questioning whether God loves us. But, the question is unfair, because it’s incomplete.
To ask why bad things are happening is only asking half of the question. If we question every bad thing, then we must also question every good thing that happens. “Why did our HMO put us in one of the best children’s hospitals in the country?” “Why did the insurance cover over $850,000 of the bill, but our part was only $100?” “Why did God place us in a loving congregation that continued to pay me for two months straight without expecting me to come into the office?”
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate a problem just as little as the next guy. To be honest problems irritate me. People who seem to have a lot going for them and don’t seem to have a lot of problems also irritate me. But, my life is not about you.
If you drive a new car, and I drive a pile of junk, I don’t envy your car payment, your insurance premium, or your taxes. And, the list goes on.
God calls as He wills. God gives gifts as He determines (1 Corinthians 12:11). We are not called to envy another believer’s success just like we’re not called to envy their struggle.
Where do you feel you have been short-changed these days? Whose life do you think you’d rather have? A closer examination might prove something else entirely. Your goal should be about becoming the best version of you that God can produce.
God isn’t going to ask you: “Why weren’t you more like John?” But, He might ask: “Why weren’t you the you I created you to be?”
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