Why would God restore their marriage but not ours?
Why did they get pregnant so easily while we’ve been struggling for years?
Why did God bless them financially, yet we’re living paycheck to paycheck?
Questions like these plague us when we focus on what we don’t have in our current circumstances. But sometimes the situation is reversed. We have a set of circumstances we desperately don’t want, and our minds fill with questions like:
Why am I the one battling this chronic illness, and they were healed?
Why was I born into a dysfunctional family, yet even their whole extended family loves Jesus?
Why do I have to wade through the unknown waters of raising a kid with special needs while other parents have it so easy?
Essentially we are asking God, Why them and not me? Or Why me and not them?
God is the Author of the Story
God teaches us about our life in this world by telling us in his Word what it looks like to follow Christ. To avoid tripping over someone else’s story and plunging further into the comparison trap, consider the early church in Acts 12. This is the story of two men in similar and challenging circumstances—James and Peter. James was one of the twelve disciples, one of the three in Jesus’ inner circle, and a leader of the early church. And he was arrested and killed by King Herod.
That last one’s a bummer, isn’t it? King Herod saw that it pleased the Jews when he killed James, so he arrested Peter next (Acts 12:1–3). Peter was also one of the twelve disciples, one of the three in Jesus’ inner circle, and a leader of the early church.
Knowing what happened to James, it would be completely understandable if Peter was afraid, plagued with doubt and hesitation. He was in the midst of a cliffhanger, uncertain of what his future held. When we face our own difficult circumstances and uncertainties, we don't have to crumble in fear or despair because God is present with us in our troubles (Ps. 46:1) and our eternal future is secure in Christ (Rom. 8:38–39; John 3:16).
Cling to the Hope of God’s Love
James and Peter had another similarity in Acts 12—the early church was praying for them both. But if God didn’t answer the prayers of the early church for James, why would God answer their prayers for Peter? But these early Christians didn’t give up. In fact, they prayed fervently (Acts 12:5).
Even though circumstances looked impossible for Peter making it out alive, God changed the story. Acts 12:7 says, “And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his hands.” Like a full-detail security escort, the angel ushered Peter out of the cell, past the guards, and out of the gate. Peter was freed from prison and his likely death (Acts 12:8–11). God wrote a different story for James than he did for Peter, but James was just as loved by God.
Remember These Truths When You Want to Ask Why Me?
When we’re looking over our shoulders at past obstacles or gawking at the runner passing on our left, we can fight the battle of comparison in our own trials by remembering these truths.
- God is doing a new thing in our lives too.
Since God’s ways are not like ours (Isa. 55:8), he isn’t restricted to odds, statistics, or what’s been done in the past. Rather, he’s set a unique path just for you and me. Like the early church, may that hope propel us to fix our eyes ahead with souls full of faith, resolving to run with endurance the race set before us (Heb. 12:1–2).
- We can find contentment and peace in our stories by immersing ourselves in God’s story.
Our God is not only the Author of our lives but of history too. With his own hand, he laid the foundation of the earth and spread out the heavens (Isa. 48:13). What he declares comes to pass: “The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth, and I announced them; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass” (Isa. 48:3). We are under the Lord’s watchful, sovereign eye, and what he has planned for us, he will accomplish. As we familiarize ourselves with his Word from beginning to end, we can see that no matter what happens, God is still in control.
When you see God’s faithfulness to his people on the pages of Scripture, you can find the courage to trust him to be faithful to you too. In this world, you will have trouble—no doubt. But we can take heart, for Jesus has already overcome the world (John 16:33).
About the Author
Heidi Lee Anderson is a writer, speaker, and stay-at-home mom. While crafting Instagram devotionals @heidileeanderson and @thismotherhen, she’s a master at cleaning up Cheerio spills, building LEGO towers, and simultaneously chugging coffee like a Gilmore. Heidi has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from University of Northwestern, MN, and has spent her career in ministry—from teaching hundreds in kids’ ministry to writing daily devotionals, Bible reading plans, and small group curriculum as a content developer. After being diagnosed with cancer, Heidi’s fuel is now to make sure Christ-followers realize, know, and claim the sure promises God offers—in the mundane, amidst the heartache, and on top of the highest mountains. Visit her online at thismotherhen.com.