"He (Elkanah) had two wives, one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah."
I Samuel 1: 2, N.I.V.
"Looks Can Be Deceiving"
"Jealousy, the old worm that bites."
Is there someone in my life who, from all outward appearances, makes me feel jealous?
Has someone been jealous of me, who if they knew all the details of my life, might reconsider their envious thoughts?
"Do we want laurels for ourselves most, or most that no one else shall have any?"
"Some people are always thirsting for water from other people's wells."
I can still remember where I was when a close girlfriend looked at me and said, "Dorothy, you live a charmed life. I envy you." From where she stood, things had gone well for me. My friend was single. I was married. She disliked her job. I loved mine. Her dad had left the family. My dad was the best father a girl could ever hope for. If you'd been in her shoes, you might have thought my life was "charmed," too!
However, it wasn't very long after our conversation when my great dad dropped dead of a sudden heart attack. My sister's marriage fell apart. Jim's mom was diagnosed with lung cancer and Jim's sister, Helen, was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer and passed away within five months. Add to this the death of my grandmother and as icing on this "cake of calamities," Jim and I were hit by a drunk driver and spent four months in various hospitals. Do you believe my life sounds charmed now? Would you want to trade places?
You see, so often we look through rose-colored glasses at the lives of those around us. And when we do, the tint of our vision is tainted by the perspective of what we want and hope to see.
This is where our story about Hannah begins. With two women in the house, everything wasn't equal or balanced. Hannah, whose name meant "grace and favor," appeared to be lucky in love, for there's no doubt in our story, Elkanah loved her. The problem was, she couldn't have what she really wanted, and that was a child. On the other side of the family, Peninnah, whose name meant, "fertile," could have children, but she didn't have what she longed for, her husband's affection.
This is why looks can be so deceiving. When we are green with envy at "everything" we think someone else has, we may find that the "everything" doesn't meet the real longing in our hearts. As someone once astutely noted, "Every time you turn green with envy you are ripe for trouble."
As we dig deeper we will find that when we are envious of those around us; thinking their lives so much better than our own -- thinking their marriage and family life is perfect and thinking they are happy and fulfilled, we may be in for a big surprise. As someone told me not long ago, "From the outside, everybody thinks I have it all. All my friends wish they were walking in my shoes." And then this person ended her comments with this heartbreaking statement. "If they only knew!"
We as women need to realize all of us have challenges. We all have good days and bad. Whether we are a Hannah covered with grace and favor or a fertile Peninnah, nearly all of us, at one time or another will find ourselves with a place of emptiness and aching. We may come to recognize that for most people, there are spaces where we feel as though we are lacking.
A very popular friend of mine from high school shared with me that she never knew if the only reason guys asked her out was because she was beautiful and rich. She often wondered if people knew what she was really like on the inside, a fearful young girl who felt abandoned by her dad who left her mom for someone half his age. Would her so-called friends still like her.
Many years ago, Chrysostom wrote that "As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a (woman)."
When we're tempted to envy another, it would do us well to remember the advice of Thomas Watson, "There is no better antidote against coveting that which is another's than being content with that which is our own."
"Many lovely things pass out of the life when jealousy comes in."
"(She) that is down needs fear no fall,
(She) that is low, no pride;
(She) that is humble ever shall
Have God to be (her) guide.
I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much:
And, Lord, contentment shall I crave;
Because Thou savest such."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $10.00.
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