Perhaps this is something that women do more than men, but it’s all too easy to spend far too much comparing ourselves to other people… and generally ending up feeling depressed by the comparisons. Despite the fact we know we are all individuals and therefore unique, we regard other people’s personalities, looks and temperaments (not to mention their possessions) with envy, feeling that they simply reveal to us all our flaws, shortcomings or lack. The grass, as the proverb goes, always looks greener on the other side.

It’s pointless to compare ourselves to others: just as pointless as saying that apples are the same as oranges, simply because they are both fruit. We need to recognise diversity and individuality without feeling threatened by it, just as we need to develop a sober view of ourselves, seeing ourselves as God sees us rather than through the filter of our own perceptions (see 2 Cor 10:12-18).

In Garry’s sermon on joy at the weekend, he talked about the comparisons we do need to make:

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Rom 8:18)

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:17-18)

To illustrate this, he produced a 1p coin:

and contrasted that with a £20 note:

The sufferings, hardships and trials we face in this life may seem large to us, but in comparison to the blessings and joy that God has in store for us, they are like the 1p coin. All that God has for us is so much greater, just as a £20 note is 2000 times the value of the 1p coin.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matt 5:11-12)

May we learn to overflow with joy, even in the midst of suffering!