How often does jealousy strike? Some days it feels like a moment-by-moment occurrence. How about when someone seems to have blessings drop out of the sky more frequently than rain? How about then?
Or how about when you’ve been pursuing the same thing for years, working to hone your skills as it goes completely unnoticed – but then someone spontaneously decides to try their hand at it and immediately receives recognition for their efforts right off the bat?
Man, jealousy is a nasty little monster. And, if that example probably sounded oddly specific, that’s probably because it is. I’m certainly not proud of this, but I turned completely green for a whole day.
I felt so unnoticed and forgotten. Am I not doing the things I’m supposed to be doing? I’m following God with all I have, and it felt like it still wasn’t enough. I felt cheated.
Oh the sense of humor God has. I remember sitting down next to a friend as these feelings of inadequacy filled my head, “I feel like the only person who reads my blog is my mom. I don’t understand why God even tells me to write anymore. It feels so useless. I know I’m not supposed to feel this way. I know none of this is of God, but I’m frustrated, and I need to be frustrated for a minute before I can move past it, so don’t tell me I’m wrong for feeling like this because I already know it but I have reasons for feeling hurt by this.”
She sat patiently beside me, listening to my poisonous words, to my nasty venting that operated more like empty calories to a hungry stomach. I could justify circles around my frustration. I could explain a million times over why it wasn’t fair, that I needed encouragement too.
God whispered in my ear at that moment, “I could justify much more eloquently why my Son didn’t deserve to die on the cross.”
Ouch. That hurt – it hurt in a good and convicting way, but it definitely hurt. I’ve committed many a crime in my life, from white lies to cheating and anger and unkindness, and I can also tell you no justice was truly served, only grace. I cannot justify the mercy and grace God has shown to me.
Jealousy steals the joy we have to share with others. It limits us to what we can reach out and grab with our own grubby hands. It tells God that He doesn’t have enough to give us. Jealousy restricts us to the things we can see rather than unveiling the abundance of what God has to offer.
I didn’t want to listen to God in that moment. I wanted to sit in my mud puddle and huff and pout and cry about how I felt so unappreciated – you know, even though Jesus died on the cross for the sins of a world that rejects Him on a daily basis and chooses death rather than freely-offered eternal life. Man, that sounds so ridiculous. I hate typing it.
God gently knelt down to my level in the muck and looked me in the eyes, “Why do you constrain me to the blessings I bestow on another person? He needed encouragement in that moment. He was hurting in ways you could not see, and I showed him love through the cheers of others. Why wouldn’t you want that for him? I still love you. I love you uniquely. My plan for you is a plan of abundance, of love and life and blessing. It isn’t the same as his, but it also isn’t greater or lesser or better or worse. Don’t give my love a limitation. Trust that it is perfectly made for you.” The clouds parted and the repentance began.
Why is it so easy to think that the blessings of another somehow limit the blessings bestowed upon us? Is not there enough room in the Kingdom for everyone? The negativity born in my heart prevented me from celebrating the way God worked in the lives of those around me. It made me appreciate Him less.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Abundance. Not limitation. There isn’t a finite amount of blessings for the children of God.
In that moment, the Lord asked me to praise my friend for the ways he honored God. Like a cranky child, I begrudgingly prayed that God continue to bless him as he worked toward building the Kingdom. I asked that the Lord lift my friend higher. A funny thing happened as I spoke these truths into existence: it got easier. I asked that God reveal him as my ally rather than my competition. I began to truly want these things for my friend. In that moment, a chain was broken. It was a chain I didn’t even know existed, but the Lord decimated it. For the first time that day, I felt a peace of mind. I was free to celebrate a victory for God’s team – a team I am a part of.
That night, I attended a church event. While fellowshipping before things got started, a sweet girl I only knew in passing approached me. She wanted to let me know that my most recent blog post really touched her. It made her feel less alone. When I got in my car that night, I cried. God did provide in the way He knew I needed. It was so sweet and simple. It wasn’t a bold and flashy praise for the world to see. It was a moment to let me know that I’m doing what He wants me to do in the present. He didn’t forget me, and He is using me as He sees fit. I am just as big a part of this team as my friend, and so are you.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt 6:23)
You are not forgotten. You are important. You are loved, and good things are in store for you. Never doubt this promise.