Last week in Sunday School, the lesson was on Joseph of Egypt. As we read through the story and pondered some of the points of the story, our teacher asked why we thought Joseph’s brothers were so ready to be rid of him. Several people gave great answers including the thought that the brothers were probably jealous about Joseph’s obvious favor in his father’s eyes and the blessings he had been given and promised. Then the teacher followed up with this question: “What can we do when we feel frustrations with our siblings or with other family members?”
I grew up in a family of seven kids. Not quite the eleven brothers (not to mention the sisters) Joseph had, but a good number of siblings nonetheless. I have to say my parents did a fabulous job of spreading around the attention and the love so that each of us felt valued and special. But that doesn’t mean we never felt jealous about something another sibling had. If I allowed myself to compare what one sibling got (be it attention, a physical possession, or anything else) I was more apt to become discontent with what I had. And trust me, I never had anything to complain about—-all my needs and many of my simple wants were fulfilled even though we weren’t all that affluent.
The thing that struck me in Sunday School is that we’re all given blessings and promises according to what we need and what the Lord has in store for us. My blessings are not the same as my siblings or my husband or anyone else for that matter. They’re just what I need. And my responsibilities aren’t the same either. Perhaps I need different tools to accomplish the Lord’s will for me than another person would. I think the trick is to not compare what we have with what others have.
What can I do when I feel frustrated? Count my own blessings and take stock of all the good things I have. I’m sure to find more to be grateful for than to complain about.