The “Snare of Compare” – Why do I have This Struggle or Temptation?
How many of us have responded to trials by figuratively shaking our fist at God and saying “This isn’t fair!” Or, maybe just tearfully crying out to Him, “No, Lord…I don’t want this…I can’t handle it…it’s too much.” I have, on more than a few occasions, done both. Contentment and trust in the Lord are like the waves that crash in from the ocean. They wash over me as I fix my faith upon Him, and then, as the waves slowly recede, I look away from Him and get ‘caught’ in the “snare of the compare.”
At The Gospel Coalition’s Women’s Conference in June, Carolyn Mahaney gave a great talk on this subject of comparing ourselves with what God brings into the lives of others. She talked on John 21, honing in on the dialogue between Jesus and Peter on the beach. Peter’s response to Jesus, after being told of the painful death he would one day endure in the future, echoes what so many of us do: “But Lord…what about this man (referring to John)?” Jesus’ response was the most loving, and caring thing He could have said, “…what is that to you? You follow Me!”
I’ve heard so many relationally and sexually broken women express this same kind of struggle, Lord, why does this temptation of being attracted to other women persist? Why won’t you just remove it completely? Father, why didn’t you allow me to learn of my husband’s porn struggles BEFORE we got married? Why do my friends all seem to have happy, sexually-whole marriages and I don’t?
While we live on this earth, we may receive some of the answers to the questions that arise from our hurting and confused hearts. Other questions, however, will remain unanswered. It may seem counter-intuitive in our information-saturated culture, where we seek for and demand quick answers, but the most loving, helpful counsel isn’t to have every nitty-gritty detail made available, but rather, to hear and reflect on what Jesus said to Peter, “You follow Me.”
Yes, to follow hard after Jesus, to be fixed upon him and to let him lead, instruct, teach and counsel us (Psalm 32:8) through our valleys, temptations, heartache and pain. When we are faced with circumstances we don’t want, and which are out of our control to change, Jesus calls us to trust of him. This is faith, expressed in love (Galatians 5:6), and it will look different from woman to woman. Living with unanswered questions is one way the Lord draws us to trust in his heart for us.
What would be some ways to live this out?
• Resolving daily to follow Jesus, and to receive the losses which will come from having to say no to influences which tempt you towards emotional and sexual lust
• Letting go of, or allowing significant space, between you and a friend in a relationship that has become life-consuming for you
• Courageously and humbly seeking help from others for your marriage when the pain from your husband’s sexual sin is so overwhelming
• Confessing to a sister in Christ or a spiritual leader that you are ensnared in sexual sin and that you can’t battle it on your own anymore…you need help!
What Peter couldn’t understand when Jesus commanded him to follow him at all costs, was that soon the Spirit of Jesus would be sent into his soul. It is the Spirit, living within us, that gives us constant communion with Christ, enabling his grace to do its work within us, to follow and obey.
Will you say to him, Yes, Jesus, I will follow you today, and not look behind, or to my right or left, or seek to compare myself to others in their walk with you. I will allow you to do your unique work within me, as I make my home in you.