Hope and comparison.
These two things are often at odds with one another.
We see what another has or does and we grow despondent. Perhaps we covet, perhaps we cry out “not fair” to God, perhaps we despair that we will never be in their shoes.
However, we can use comparison to spur our hope on and to encourage us rather than discourage us.
When we see the blessings another has received, we can hope that the Lord is working in our lives too. Perhaps not through the same method or to the same end, but working he is.
For example, someone I follow on instagram just purchased a new home on acreage. There are trees and space and the home is large enough for all of them. It would be so easy to feel jealous. So easy to say, we will never have that.
But, that would be so short-sighted and so limiting of what God can do and also so unfair. After all, this person lived in multiple homes before this one. This person lived in a very small house with multiple children for many years. This person is further along life’s path than I.
Sometimes, I think we see the spiritual maturity of others or the financial prosperity of others or the “perfect” homeschooling of others and we compare in a negative light instead of considering what paths those people may have taken to reach those ends.
Even scripture tells us that, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Psalm 13:12). Waiting can be hard.
I remember reading in a Bible study book about a woman whose life seemed so “easy” now. Then she went on to describe years of barely surviving financially and of eating simple dinners and never going out and I thought, “hey, that is my life right now!” and she went on to say that those lean years had really shaped her family in so many wonderful and positive ways. I realized that perhaps that might be part of my story. Perhaps I am struggling now, but maybe we won’t struggle forever? I can hope that this will be a season for us as well. I can do my best with God has given us now and I can hope. Maybe that hope is that we will not always struggle. Maybe that hope is simply that he will strengthen us through the struggle.
Sometimes, to look forward, we must first look backward. How has he helped me in the past? Where were we a year ago? Two years ago? Sometimes we need to compare our current circumstances or the current circumstances of others to our or their past circumstances to accurately see the true picture.
Then, hope can grow.