I was reading through the comments on a few of the Boundless blog posts last week, and I’ve noticed a trend among the threads: Comparing our sufferings. One comment from a married reader will talk about how being married doesn’t cure loneliness (I happen to agree) and then another comment from a single person will argue, saying at least a married person is loved and knows what it’s like to be chosen, instead of wondering if or when God will bring a spouse (this is also a valid position). The point is we’re trying to make our own circumstances out to be the worst, but the reality is everyone suffers and struggles. I wonder what good it does to compare our sufferings, trying to validate why a certain circumstance or life stage is better or worse than the others.
Now please hear me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be open and vulnerable and real about our struggles. I think we all — no matter single or married, healthy or sick, employed or job-searching, financially-secure or barely scraping by — know that life is hard, and our souls ache and groan for Christ’s redemption. But comparing our struggles doesn’t do any good because it takes the focus off the many blessings we do have.
A while ago on the podcast Lisa interviewed Nick Vujicic, who was born without arms and legs. As a child, he attempted suicide because he couldn’t fathom what purpose God had for such a child. Now he travels the world as a motivational speaker, leading thousands to Christ because of the platform his disability gives him. People often come up to him after he speaks and tell him that their sufferings and trials are nothing compared to his. At least they have all of their limbs, they say. But, Nick says, that isn’t really the point.
Pain is pain, and suffering is suffering, no matter what it is or how it affects us. The truth is there is always someone experiencing something worse. That’s why the comparison game is always a losing one.
Let’s keep this is mind as a Boundless community. Everyone has real struggles and real hurts. Instead of comparing and trying to find validation in our own pain, let’s instead offer compassion and empathy. I’m reminded of 2 Corinthians 1:3-5: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
Let’s use our pain to comfort others who are hurting. I don’t want to waste my pain comparing it to someone else’s. Instead, I want to wrestle with it, let it draw me close to the God who offers comfort, and in turn, offer that comfort to someone else.
Copyright 2012 Ashley Boyer Hendley. All rights reserved.