Medical Mondays: My Difficult is Worse than Your Difficult

My Grandpa used to love to say, "First guy around here doesn't have a chance." He'd throw that in when someone started talking about a problem they were going through, but then another person chimed in on their worse problem, and then another topped that, etc.

It was a funny joke to him, but a measure of truth came with it. We tend to think whatever we ourselves are going through is worse than what others face. Okay, maybe not the worst of the worst, but most people don't have it as tough as we do. (This can be a special temptation to those with health problems looking at healthy people--thinking any problem they might have couldn't be as bad as our physical one/s.)

In fact, many of us have probably looked around and decided we could deal with someone else's trial better than our own.

I read a story once that taught me a lesson about this tendency. I wish I could credit it to whoever wrote it, but I can't remember who was the source, only the story itself.

It was a fairy tale about how everyone in a town was given the gift of being able to trade in their difficulty with someone else's. Everyone in the town came and put their trouble/trial/disease/disappointment into a huge pile in the center of town. They were allowed to do this only if they exchanged theirs with someone else's, so each person who put their trial down chose another to pick up. Everyone picked up a different trial that seemed better or easier, and went home.


The one who gave this gift expected the townsfolk to be happy and grateful, but to his surprise, one day he came to see everyone in town returning to where the pile of difficulties once was. That day, it was there again, for every person in town had returned their new trial and was looking to find their old one again. They realized that trying to carry someone else's chosen burden was even harder than carrying their own. They were not equipped to handle what someone else was called to suffer.

That day the townsfolk learned to stop seeing everyone else's lot in life as easier than their own.

I like that story, and though it is a fairy tale, it carries spiritual truths. God says He has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). For that to be true, it must mean that whatever difficulty He has allowed into our lives, He has also equipped us with the resources to bear it. Even though someone else's trial may seem easier, that someone else may be looking at your trial with longing, wishing they had one as easy as yours.

A good thing to remember when you are tempted to look around and envy those who seem to have it easier. In most cases, we really have no idea what that person is struggling to bear.

Whose "easy" lives are you most tempted to envy? Have you ever envied someone, only to find out later they were struggling, too?

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  1. How true and how beautifully written, Kimberly! I don't really "allow myself" to think along the lines of; "You think YOU have it so bad! You should try some of what I have!" but if I prod myself and search for those attitudes, they are there...Not a happy admission, but I guess it is more of a "human" tendency (meaning widespread) than I thought it was. I know I have looked with unloving eyes at a beautiful woman bemoaning the hardships of her life (like lost car keys) and thought, "If only you KNEW what hardship really is!" God gave me my path to walk as he gave hers to her. Who am I to question his Sovereign Wisdom?? I evidently needed stronger medicine than she did. Thanks for sharing your thoughts....and for making me think.

  2. Thanks, Cynthia! I like what you said about needing "stronger medicine." I try to remember that what is see is not the whole story. I remember after my Grandpa died, reading a brochure that told kids sometimes you'll want to cry when you can't tie your shoes and it's okay. When I want to judge someone with an "easy" life, I try to remember they may be carrying a deep heartache like a ruined marriage or loss of a baby, and that little thing they're complaining about is just the surface thing they are targeting their pain on at the moment. Then again, God does ask more of some of us than others, and that's His choice as well. But knowing that He will supply strength for every cross we are asked to bear should make us feel so blessed, because it means the heavier the cross, the more strength we get from Him!
    I hope your day is filled with hope. Your are deeply loved (Jer 31:3) and very valued (Zeph 3:17)!


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