Sometimes when a friend is doing something amazing, I feel genuinely excited for them. I cheer them on, send encouraging notes, and try to be a good friend all around. But sometimes, something good happens to someone I know, and it happens. I feel it creep up on me, sinking its ugly teeth deep into my soul. Envy worms its way into my heart.
Envy is not about wanting what other people have. It's about believing deep down that because someone else has something that you do not, you are less valuable. For me, envy says that because she is married and I am single, I am worth less. Because he is more respected than I am, I am worth less. Because she is prettier than I am, because she can act better than I can, she is more valuable than I am.
That is NOT how God sees things. Jesus told a story of a lost sheep where a shepherd left the 99 he had to go look for the missing one, and when he found it he rejoiced. Jesus told a story of a father and his two sons, and when one son screwed up big time and the other had a bad attitude, the father loved them both. He did not rebuke his sons but declared his love in a way that showed there was nothing they could do to make him love them less.
Yesterday I texted a friend some thoughts about how great it is that God does not have a finite number of blessings. This friend and I have both been in similar areas of need, and I thought about how great it is that she doesn't have to worry that the fact that God provided a computer for me does not negate his ability to provide a computer for her. God isn't up in heaven crunching the numbers and feeling bad because he already used up his computer blessing quota. He is not picking and choosing blessings giving only to the perfect favorites.
My thoughts are a little scattered, but I feel a need to remind myself (and maybe you) that "Beloved" is not a title we can lose. It is not a name God hands out on a whim and takes it back when we are bad. We are each God's favorite, we are each worth so much to Him that he sacrificed His son for us. I don't pretend to really understand that or even believe it very well, but it bears repeating: God rejoices over us even when we're slinking back to Him ashamed of where we've been. He will not give up on us, he will not neglect us. God loves us more than we can comprehend.