Last year, Relevant magazine came out with an article called “Millennials’ Biggest Problem: Obsessive Comparison Disorder.” And of course, I read it because I’m a millennial and I wanted to know why they think this is our biggest problem. In the article, the author listed three ways for us to overcome our issue with comparison. His solutions were things like: Use social media less, and know your value. While those are very good things to do, they don’t get to the root of our problem.
People in the Bible also had issues with comparison, not least of which is the guy who wrote Psalm 73. His obsession even began to affect his relationship with God. The writer starts off by saying:
Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.
When the psalmist says that his foot had nearly slipped, he’s using imagery to describe what happens when a steadfast and faithful follower of God almost slips into sin. He’s setting up the chapter by telling us that what we’re about to read is HIS issue. He’s owning his depravity. In verse 3, he says…
For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Then he lays out why. As followers of Christ, I’m sure many of us can relate. He observes how the wicked have no hardships. They’re rich, they’re happy, and they are never in want. How can God allow this to continue while his own children struggle? That’s the question that plagued the psalmist. And that’s the line of thought that led him to make this statement in verse 13:
All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. All in vain, he says.
If I can’t have that cush life, then what’s the point, God?
This guy is getting more and more worked up. He’s desperate, and in verse 16 he says, “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God.” And suddenly his focus shifts. He goes from focusing outward on all that seems unfair and unjust to looking upward. When his focus shifts and his heart turns. In the house of the Lord, he begins to worship God.
The only cure for comparison is found in authentic worship. Worship cures comparison because the goodness of God cannot be overshadowed by anything the world will offer us. In verse 25, the psalmist says, “Whom have I in heaven by you? And there is nothing on earth I desire besides you,” and then in 28, “But for me it is good to be near God.”
Theologian Richard Foster once said, “As worship begins in holy expectancy, it ends in holy obedience. Holy obedience saves worship from becoming an opiate, an escape from the pressing needs of modern life.” Authentic worship focuses on the worthiness of God, not the wealthiness of God. In other words, we worship God because of who he is, not because of what he can give us. Authentic worship says, “In the midst of even this, God, I will praise you.”
In November 2015, three days before Thanksgiving, I miscarried yet another baby. What began as an exciting ultrasound ended in waves of grief that could not be quelled. I was angry, wounded, and felt slighted by God. How could God let this happen to us again? We’d prayed for this baby every day. It wasn’t fair! After all of my verbal processing was done, I fell silent. I had run out of words, so I turned on my iTunes and starting listening to worship songs. All of a sudden, the grace of God began to engulfed my pain. For weeks, I played the same song over and over, because I needed its truth to take root in my spirit.
The only cure for comparison is found in authentic worship. It’s found when we acknowledge God’s goodness in our lives. It’s found when we meet with him. It’s found when we proclaim his faithfulness, his grace, and his unfailing love. The only cure for comparison is found in authentic worship.