Misery and Company
He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him. 1 Kings 3:26
When I encounter personal misery, I am easily annoyed by anyone who does not share in my discomfort. If I am struggling with my weight, I don’t want to hear how someone just lost 15 pounds. There is even a part of me that wants to see failure. I hope you put it all back on in a week. When I am miserable, the petulant child in me wants others to be miserable too.
Whether we ever say it out loud or not, most of us are familiar with this sentiment. It is simply our nature to feel that suffering is worse when everyone else is happy. When we suffer loss, it is tempting to resent those around us and to secretly hope that they lose too.
King Solomon understood this and used it to his advantage in today’s passage. In the story, two women came to him to settle a dispute. Though both had newborns, one of them accidentally suffocated hers while sleeping. In her grief, she switched her dead baby with the living one while the other woman slept. Thus, they came to Solomon to settle who the true mother was.
Solomon asked for a sword and declared that he intended to cut the living baby in two, giving half to each mother. One mother agreed. Sounds fair. Then we will both be miserable. The true mother preferred to suffer personal loss rather than to see the death of her own child. No, let her have the child. Please let him live! Solomon then knew who the real mother was.
When focused on ourselves, we practice resentment and share our misery. When our eyes are on God and His will however, we look to the needs of others, practicing love. If we want to know love and peace instead of misery and resentment, we do not do so by avoiding loss. That is usually not our choice. We do so by daily, looking to God instead of ourselves.