They say that comparison is the thief of joy. Boy, are they right.
There are more people than I can count on my fingers that are making announcements recently, whether they’re close friends, mutual friends, or influencers I follow online. Announcements of pregnancies, engagements, new house, new job, book publication, or the launch of a massive conference or project fill my timeline. And in comes that small but mighty voice that says, “and what are you doing?”
“The same old” I reply
The voice needn’t reply; I’m already deep in the pool of comparison, thinking everybody is doing something new and exciting and I’m just watching it happen.
When I finally put my perspective goggles on, I see that actually I’ve already done a lot of traveling. I went on three mission trip before the age of 16, one of which was by myself. I’ve already done my GCSEs and A-Levels, and I’m already in Year 2 of Uni. I’ve already learnt to drive. I’ve already left home and I’ve already got a ‘new job’, which just so happens to be the one I’ve wanted since I was 15.
And I’m not yet twenty.
Without perspective goggles, being in a season of no announcements can be difficult, especially in a digital age. Nobody goes on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to say, “I have no news!” People post the highlights; the holidays, the productive work-meeting, the massive youth conference, the parties.
You very rarely see Christians who have a large online following tweet, “I led a small group tonight. Hardly anyone came and nothing happened. I’m not sure what message anyone went home with. Clearing up the mess left now, but God is still good”. No, what you see is, “I led a brilliant small group tonight! More people than we’ve ever had with such an inspiring, life-changing, powerful message. Can’t wait for next week!”
When I ask youth leaders how things are going, they often respond with statistics of how many young people came to faith at their last big gathering. I’m the same; when people ask how the drop-in youth cafe I lead is going, my answers are statistics, not adjectives. I tell them how many young people we have coming now and I tell them about how many are now coming to Church from this youth cafe.
I wonder whether Jesus would have social media, and if He would, what he would post. In many stories we read in The Bible, Jesus actually tells people not to share the story of what just happened (Luke 8:56, Matthew 16:20, Mark 7:36). I think that if He did post, his statuses would reflect the Father.
The Bible is full of great stories of breakthrough and miracles, that nowadays would make perfect Instagram captions. But the Bible doesn’t tell you every second of every day of the ‘big characters’. So much of Joseph’s life, and Moses’s and Elijah’s and even Jesus’s life is missing from the Bible. I don’t think every day was an announcement day. Perhaps there were some days that they or we would read as monotonous. Days of just walking, days of warning people of the same prophecy with no breakthrough, days of studying, days of fishing, days of manual work.
In a season of no announcements, God is no less powerful or at work.
A season of no announcements is not a signal to put down tools and find something else to do. A season of no announcements may actually be the opposite.
A friend sent me this quote recently, and I feel it sums up a season of no announcements perfectly.
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”