I have been going through a tough season recently ("again, JJ?" Yes, again). And the past few times these happened I have been looking at others with envy. Some people just don't have the responsibilities and challenges I have. Others cope with them so much better, either because of natural ability, wiser decisions in the past or help from supportive friends and family.
Whichever case it may be, it pains me to look at their lives and see how they do better than me. Facebook is NOT your friend at this point! I find it difficult to rejoice with those who rejoice these days, as the Bible admonishes me to.
And yet on the other side, I am sure there are people who envy me. I have decent music skills and I am quite effective in using them in the service of God. I have two healthy sons, and despite the different challenges they give me in parenting them, they are good kids. They are turning out better than I have reason to expect, and for that I really have to thank God for his grace and mercy.
This is before I start comparing myself from people who are less well-off than I am.
Over the years I had people sign-up for my mailing list and every email I sent on worship ministry was an excuse for them to ask me to send them money. :) The fact is that there are believers from the poorer countries that look at Christians from other countries as money-channels to be tapped and exploited. They will always say that they are serious about serving God, have no support from their own churches, and want me to go over and hold worship concerts for them. Then they expect me to pay my own way and give them money too, while they use the concert as a chance to raise funds from their fellow church-mates and countrymen. They get to keep all the money they raise of course...
It's tempting to be judgmental, but I have experienced extended seasons of lack and know firsthand how much it crushes the soul and affects the thinking. After some time you will start getting bitter and think you are entitled to help from others. Once you start thinking like that it is VERY difficult to breakout of that mindset and start trusting God to bring us to maturity and to make things work. So I sympathize with them. Not enough to do what they want, but enough to at least not name and shame them publicly.
In His Presence We Are Equal
One thing I realized: when we worship God and experience his presence through the Holy Spirit, we are equal. I don't get any less of God's presence than the people I envy. And I don't get any more than the people who envy me. I might be better able to perceive it and recognize it, because my heart may be less cluttered with worries and the things of this world (notice I said "less"), but God is with us the same.
Let me make it even clearer - when we worship God we all have the same access to his presence manifested in our lives. The guy with a divinely-blessed family and earning more in one month than I do in one year gets as much of God as I do. The guy with sick kids and struggling to pay his bills or even feed his kids gets as much of God as I do. The woman with a great career and less family responsibilities gets as much of God as the bereaved widow struggling to stay strong for her kids.
When God is with us, he can bring help to us in our troubles.
Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) - God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
But we cannot expect things to happen automatically without any action on our part. We have to prepare the way for God to act, to show that we are humbly trusting in him and depending on him.
Psalm 50:23 (NIV 84) - He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.
Every time we enter the presence of God through worship, there is that divine potential. It may be seen as the power of God present to heal the sick (Luke 5:17) or God delivering us from our adversaries (2 Chronicles 20:22-23). Every time I worship God I don't know what he will do for me that session. Sometimes I get wisdom and insights, sometimes I receive comfort and strength. I won't know what to expect. I only know that God is worthy of my praise regardless of what happens, but as I praise him I can expect good to happen.
And I trust him enough to let him decide on how and when he wishes to bless me. As long as his presence goes with me, I know everything will work out.
... His presence is with YOU.
The same God that is with me is with you, if you are a believer of Christ and a child of God (John 1:12). And you get the same presence of God that I get. Can I just encourage you to make full use of this privilege? Be found in his presence worshiping him and praising him, he will take care of you! Be blessed!