Those Enviable Others

  • Feb. 12, 2014
  • #8293

Comparing ourselves with others can produce destructive envy. The antidote is pursuing God’s perfect plan for our lives.

Those Enviable Others

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a word about competing and comparing.

It may have been many years ago, but I will never forget the first time I was wheeled into occupational therapy. I had just broken my neck and was still trying to adjust to life without use of my legs or my hands. But I had heard that occupational therapy was a wonderful place; there, I would learn how to do as much as I could with what little I had left. I had heard that miracles happened in occupation therapy. Maybe I could even learn to type or write holding a pencil.

When they wheeled me into the room, all around me were people in wheelchairs at big tables and desks: some were weaving colorful potholders; others were handling a hammer and nails; still others were sculpting in clay. Everybody was doing something, and I got so excited about the possibilities for me until I realized these people were able to use their hands and I couldn’t. I looked around the room and—yep—I had the least amount of functioning ability of anyone there. I was the most paralyzed person of them all. My heart sank and my face felt flushed. It was my first experience of envying—I mean really envying—others, others who had use of their hands. And it felt … awful!

I may have been still new to my wheelchair, but I realized something that day in occupational therapy. I could not—I would not—no, I can’t allow myself to pick up yardsticks and start comparing and competing with others. For my own mental sanity and peace of mind, I realized back then that I dare not measure my circumstances up against other people in wheelchairs—people who were less paralyzed than I was. To do so would be for me to commit emotional suicide. After all, like it says in Proverbs chapter 14, verse 30, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” More than that, “Do not covet” is one of the Ten Commandments, and God made it a command because He knows how utterly devastating it is to compare your lot in life with others. When we do, we are not only diminishing ourselves, we are despising God's plan and purpose for our life. And it is always a better plan than what you see unfolding in the lives of others. God's plan for you is that of the highest order and the best good. Friend, you have everything you need, everything that’s required for you to be utterly content. And if God thought you needed anything extra, believe me He’d give it. But as it is, what you have is all you need for your happiness.

Back in occupational therapy, it was no mistake that God put me in a room with paraplegics who had use of their hands. There was a reason, a plan, a purpose behind my quadriplegia, so rather than be eaten up by envy, I knew the better course was to pursue God's plan for my life. And, oh, what a marvelous plan it is, because my quadriplegia has forced me, has caused me to lean so much harder on the Lord. Maybe if I had use of my hands I wouldn’t feel my desperate need of Him so much. When I look at my paralyzed hands and legs, I'm content because I recognize that I have everything that I need to be happy. And that’s Jesus. And my quadriplegia only magnifies that glorious need.

Listen, friend, if these thoughts have encouraged you, there’s so much more to share. I’ve written a booklet called “Those Enviable Others” that I’d love to send you today. Just go to my radio page at and ask for my booklet. And remember, your lot in life, your circumstances, what you have is exactly what you need to be content. It’s just a word of encouragement from the quadriplegic in the wheelchair.

© Joni and Friends


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