How His Comfort Drowns Out Comparison
By Teresa Whiting
Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Teresa's Story
I was in a funk.
It came on slowly, almost imperceptibly. But as evening faded into night, and the house grew quiet, I sat glued to the couch, feeling small and insecure. I’d spent way too much time scrolling social media, looking at what everyone else was doing, examining their kid’s accomplishments, their new outfits, their beautifully decorated homes, and the delicious meals they were preparing for dinner. I wanted to be happy for them.
But my thoughts drifted to my child who was struggling to pass math, the faded clothes in my closet, our stained family room carpet, and the fact that for two nights in a row I'd served cereal for dinner. I was spiraling into the black hole of comparison, and with it came the all-too-familiar feeling of my not-enough-ness.
Usually, my funks lead me in one of several directions. Sit-and-scroll wasn’t an option, since I knew that’s what got me into this mess in the first place. A walk was always a healthy go-to, but it was late and I didn’t want to be out alone in the dark. And I couldn’t clean out closets or rearrange furniture, because everyone was sleeping already. (At least I have some productive coping mechanisms!)
So I resorted to what should have been my first response.
“Oh God, I need some comfort,” I whispered. I turned off my phone, grabbed my Bible, and sunk deeper into the cushions. I recalled something about comfort in Isaiah 40, so I turned there:
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to her,” (Isaiah 40:1-2, ESV).
Yes, I was in the right place. God was speaking a message of comfort over His broken and hurting people. I couldn’t wait to see what He would say to me. I found a single phrase, a lifeline, but it wasn’t at all what I’d expected.
Isaiah begins this chapter with a few proclamations: Comfort is coming. God is going to reveal His glory to the world! What good news that must have been to his desperate listeners who were struggling in captivity.
Where is the Comfort in This?
But at first glance, the third proclamation, in verses six to eight, hardly seemed comforting:
“A voice says, ‘Cry!’
And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
All flesh is grass,
and its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of God blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.”
(Isaiah 40:6-8, ESV)
How is this a message of comfort? I wondered. Our best efforts will blow away in the wind like dried flower petals. Having been humbled by the reminder of my smallness, I continued reading, still looking for words of hope. I found them in verse 9. This was the proclamation I needed to hear:
“Go on up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
‘Behold your God!’”
(Isaiah 40:9, ESV, emphasis mine)
Small Me, Big God
Those three words, "Behold your God," jumped off the page. I could almost hear God saying to me, “Stop looking in the mirror. You are a blade of grass. Stop comparing yourself to others. They are fading flowers. Look at Me!”
As I read through the chapter, God revealed more and more of Himself.
I was awed by our mighty Warrior, who comes to judge with a powerful arm. And in the next moment, humbled by our tender Shepherd who cradles us close to His heart. My mind couldn’t wrap itself around a Creator who holds every drop of water in the hollow of His hand and measures the earth between the span of His fingers.
I was reminded that the things which intimidate me are small and insignificant in comparison to God. The nations and the kingdoms of the earth which seem so powerful are like a drop in a bucket. The rulers, kings, and politicians are meaningless. The superstars and influencers, those the world lifts high and celebrates, will blow off in the wind, like yesterday’s grass. The idols, both hand-carved and heart-made, cannot compare to the One who sets the stars in place and stretches out the heavens.
As the chapter closed, Isaiah reminded me that our infinite, immeasurable, awesome God is also intensely personal. He gives His power to the weak and weary. He lifts us up on wings like eagles. He renews our strength (Isaiah 40:31).
As I read Isaiah 40 over and over, God got bigger, and I got smaller. I all but disappeared in His grand and glorious shadow, which, surprisingly, brought relief to my heavy heart.
A Better Place to Look
My evening ended much better than it began. I went looking for comfort. I found a fresh view of God. I didn’t need to be reminded of who I was. I needed to be reminded of who He is.
Have you ever found yourself slipping into a funk of insecurity and self-absorption or wallowing in the mire of negative self-talk? Have you gone searching for soul-comfort, only to come up empty?
Next time, try this:
1 | Open your Bible to one of the passages that describe God in detail. Try Isaiah 40 or 41, Job 38, or Psalm 145.
2 | Then, let yourself get lost in the greatness of God.
As you follow the advice of Isaiah, and “Behold your God,” you will find comfort.
Photo credit: Unsplash, Kira auf der Heide.
The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest writer series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. When we read each other’s stories of how He meets us, it reminds and reassures us that He is near. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.
Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive notifications for each new essay, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a link to a FREE five-day devotional (45 beautiful pages!) called, “Closer: Five Days to Hearing God Louder.” Each day features teaching on one posture and a guided journaling section to help us practice taking steps toward hearing God louder in our every day.
Learn more about each of these five postures:
1 | Seek: If I Seek God, Will I Really Find Him?
2 | Know: Will God Speak, Even to Me?
3 | Expect: Can I Expect to Hear God?
4 | Listen: How Do I Listen for God?
5 | Connect: Is God Really Right Here?
New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!
Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.
Teresa Whiting is a writer, speaker, furniture artist, and ministry leader. She holds a degree in Bible and Counseling from Clark’s Summit University. But her favorite titles are “Mom” and “G-ma.” She and her husband Greg have been married 27 years and are empty(ish)- nesters after raising five kids, including two sets of twins.
More than anything else, Teresa’s passion is to see the people in her life recognize the beautiful, redemptive work of God in the midst of this broken world. Through the spoken and written word, she holds out hope to women in the midst of their mess. She is working on publishing her first Bible Study this Spring!
Find her at: teresawhiting.com