When You Start to Compare Your COVID-19 Situation to Everyone Else

It’s bound to happen. I can already see it. We might start comparing our lives. Some people shelter-in-place in lavish, well-stocked vacation homes, far from urban centers. They can ride this virus out for six more months with joy and endless provisions. And others sit comfortably in what has become a 1950’s neighborhood of fathers throwing baseballs with their children in front yards, neighbors riding bikes, and happy, healthy families doing puzzles together on spacious, germ-free porches.

But that might not be your situation or mine.

I can see the longing in the posts of friends who still work long hours and in the stories of young mothers who cry every day because life at home is not the idyllic dance party of TikTok and Instagram. I talk daily with people whose situation is close to miserable. They are alone, scared, and just barely getting through each hour. It’s not fun. It’s not a vacation.

I feel the sting of jealousy and comparison when I talk to better situated friends in other parts of the nation or when I think about the difficulty of my new work life as a virtual professor. And the same questions parade across my mind that came back in 2014 when I wrote Seated with Christ: Living Freely in a Culture of Comparison:

What if my life were like that one? Why aren’t my children doing this or that? Isn’t everyone else living a better life in their home? I want a different, better seat at the table of comfort, blessing, health, wealth. And I wish I lived somewhere less populated or less at risk! I need a different seat!

PS: My comparisons become oddly specific. I think things like this: Is it OK if I do not like puzzles, strategy games, or long painting sessions with my family? Is it OK if I’m not engaging in hour-long devotional times with my teens or accomplishing personal development goals? My goal is survival. Is that enough?)

I speak the same truth that saved me then and saves me now. You and I are exactly where we should be. God ordained it. And I recall my favorite quote from Seated with Christ: “All seats provide equal viewing of the universe,”—meaning no matter what your situation today, you have an equal chance to enjoy God’s presence, blessing, riches, joy, favor, power, and comfort in an unlimited way. And Jesus will lead you in what to do, how to live, and what will bring joy and peace to your environment, no matter how terrible it now seems. Paul was writing Ephesians 2 most likely from a Roman prison, yet he experienced himself as being seated at the Greatest Table with the Greatest King. And this is your situation, your seat with Jesus. He’s planned the fruit for your life (Ephesians 2:10). It’s not going to look like your best friend’s, your brother’s, or a celebrity.

I speak the verse again: “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). We are in the best situation already because Jesus put us here.

So now, we live lives of faith and deeper focus into spiritual realities. We don’t compare our lives. God knows where you are, why you’re there, and with whom, and He will use it for His glory.

Now that we’re over the distraction of comparison, we can get to the real work of loving our family, friends, and neighbors. We can get to the real work of worship, of prayer, and of abiding with Jesus to bear the fruit He’s picked just for us.

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