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Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

 I probably don’t have to tell any of my readers who live in the United States that Thursday is Thanksgiving. Every school kid knows that they get out of school for two or three days because it is Thanksgiving. And most kids probably were asked by one or more teachers to tell what they were thankful for during the last day in class before the Thanksgiving vacation days when school was closed. 

When I was a school librarian I sometimes asked my students to tell or write about something they were thankful for. Some would mention their mother or father, family, or friends. Others might mention something that had been given to them. But Tommy and a few others couldn’t think of anything to be thankful for. Tommy didn’t wear name brand clothes and he probably didn’t make all As, but his clothing was nice and he wasn’t failing. I sensed that Tommy’s real problem was a spirit of discontentment. He wanted things some of his classmates had and felt cheated somehow because he couldn’t have them.

How many of us are like Tommy? We watch commercials on TV and see things we want. We become jealous of our friends’ nice clothes or their fancy cell phones.

When I was in high school my family camped beside a lake two summers while my father went to college in a different state than were we lived. The first summer we camped for 11 weeks and enjoyed fishing and swimming every day we were there. Before the second summer we purchased a boat. My brother also bought a SCUBA tank. You would have thought the second summer would have been fantastic. But money was tight and we could only buy a little gasoline for the boat. We also couldn’t afford to fill the SCUBA tank as often as we wanted. So the rest of the time we had to settle for doing the same things we had done the summer before. And even though those things were wonderful the first summer, they weren’t good enough any more. Seven weeks into the summer we packed up our tent and our boat and went back home for the rest of the summer.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says we should give thanks in all circumstances. Not only when we have all of our wants met. If we are willing to thank God for everything, for the air we breathe, for our health, for a soft place to sleep and a blanket to cover us, for clothing to keep us warm, for someone to love us, we will have discovered the secret of real joy.

If we let jealousy and discontentment get in the way of being thankful for the blessings we have, we lose our joy. But if we are willing to look on the bright side, to see the many blessings that are ours and we take the time to thank God for them, we will learn the secret of true happiness.

Thank God for your blessings. If you still can’t think of any blessings, go to Google and do a search for something like world hunger or aids orphans. Then think again about the blessings you have and thank God for being so good to you.

Father God, enable our hearts to be thankful in everything. Help us to willing to care more about others’ needs than about our wants.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.