My friend Courtney and I drove down to Galveston a few days ago for an extended weekend. I don't think there was a break in the conversation on the 4 1/2 hour trip! We laughed and caught up on recent weeks. We got serious and discussed challenging professional and personal situations we are facing. It was that good, deep conversation that can be hard to come by in the midst of busy lives.
The weekend consisted of relaxing on the beach, watching dolphins, and eating good food. We read, prayed together, watched some tv, and caught up on sleep. It was a GREAT trip!
It took until this morning, though, to realize one of the primary benefits of getting away. Dr. Michael Easley stepped in for Pastor Chuck this morning and brought a good word from the book of Jonah. In the middle of the message, he referenced a quote that I now find lingering in my thoughts as the weekend winds down. He said, "Comparison is the kiss of death to gratitude."
Take a minute to think this through.
When we spend our time comparing ourselves to others (our work, our lives, our relationships), we miss out on experiencing and expressing gratitude. When we take time to step away from the routine and gain some perspective, I think we would all acknowledge that we fall short in being grateful.
The world constantly tells us we should be unhappy with what we have. Take marketing for example. Commercials and ads are based on the premise that you are missing something and that the product/service being advertised is the answer to fill the void.
I could list a number of other examples like social media, celebrity news, and pop culture in general, but it can be even simpler. We tend to compare ourselves to those around us more often than we do to the out-of-reach celebrity. We do it at work with our peers or superiors. We do it in our relationships with our friends. We even do it with people we pass by but don't know.
And there is the key. We rarely know what is really going on in the lives of the people we compare ourselves to. We may see the one good thing they've got going at that time while the rest of their lives is crumbling around them. This is why we must focus on being grateful for what God has given us and trust Him to provide for our needs. Leave it to John Newton to summarize it perfectly,
"Everything is necessary that He sends; nothing can be necessary that He withholds."