“Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have…”
“Do everything they say to you,” The Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. they don’t want me to be their king any longer.”
…”When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding…”
But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning, “Even so, we still want a king,” they said, “we want to be like the nations around us.“
Israel had just WON against the nations they were comparing themselves to, but one reigning desire was enough that they didn’t care what they were committing themselves to or who they were rejecting to have it.
They longed to be like other people. And it blinded them.
It’s a desire worth confronting in my own heart. For my life knows this bold and senseless craving that insists if only my life looked like that, everything would be okay.
I’ve experienced it in a hundred different ways. Right now this trap-like thinking has sunk its hook into the issue of pregnancy weight gain. What a small thing to cause such persistent unhappiness, but so it is. It’s even normal to put on weight when you’re pregnant, but, man, have I struggled with condemnation, shame, and a painful, repetitive self-assessment over it. Cameras make me want to hide and finding clothes that fit is a whole new challenge, but nothing gets those emotions going like the fatal observation of a beautiful pregnant person who stayed petite.
How readily I notice anyone and everyone who didn’t pack on the pounds in their pregnancy. What power a “belly-only pregnancy” has to dominate my attention and how often I find myself drowning again in thoughts of “why couldn’t I be more like them?”
And so I must pause at this chapter of 1 Samuel and consider the similar thought process it describes in the Israelites. I am not its only victim. Whether it’s a new king or a different pregnancy weight; a new relationship or a different set of talents; attention, approval, or success; that hair, that house, that car; we people are suckers for converting differences into discouragement.
But I have the advantage of looking back at Israel and learning that they were trading something of immense value in order to have something that wasn’t better, even though it really seemed like it at the time.
May I see their story and gain this wisdom:
When I push for what another person has, I may be rejecting what God has purposefully chosen for me.
His loving hand scripts the details of my story and I can either embrace what He has given or cast pining eyes ever outward toward something else. But here is the truth: I can entrust myself to Him. Whatever is out there is not better than what I have already been given, no matter how good it looks.
It’s one thing to see room for improvement and make adjustments in areas I have control over. (Yes, I could eat less sugar).
It is quite another to gaze unhappily at another person’s entire situation and grow sullen over mine. (Despairing because I should have eaten less sugar, or they were better at not eating sugar, or they could eat sugar and stay small anyway). It comes down to this: I want what they have. When that thought rules, it sours appreciation and tears down beauty and I am learning that I do not have to go there.
I CAN LEARN to see desirable situations and remember that, in many ways, my situation is desirable – the biggest being that it was hand-crafted by a God who knows what I need, cherishes me, and promises He is working things out for my good.
I CAN LEARN to see others, notice differences, and move on, turning again to a God who is able to bring about change for me in His timing.
I CAN LEARN to see the beautiful surface level and recognize that sometimes the deeper priorities are dangerously out of balance.
I CAN LEARN that none of what I see is worth distrusting my God and trading away His leadership.
My heart does not judge accurately what is most important. I so need the Lord. I so need His leading.
So, when a difference catches my eye, may it first and foremost cause me to pause and assess whether I am leaning on my own understanding or on His solid guidance (Proverbs 3:5-6). May I learn to put what I can’t control back into His hands and be content learning to do well with what I can control.
And may I see that one of the things I can control is how I think about this.
Help me to see and to savor what you have given – to delight in what you have chosen for me, and to look to you for help with how to do well with it. Retrain my heart to see differences and just appreciate them rather than diving headlong into the bottomless pool of regret, comparison, lust and frustration.
May I see beauty and remember that you have crafted it, just as you are crafting me.
Train my life to reflect your priorities, to choose to be thankful, and to accept your rest rather than wallowing in my rejection.
My life will never look like everyone else’s. May I learn the lesson that it doesn’t have to, and it is still very, very good. It just takes being willing to believe that you are using those differences and they do not mean that I am a wreck or a failure.
Not even close.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”