Two little girls grew up in the same home. They had the same parents who loved them both dearly. They had the same house. The same grandparents. They went to the same church. And they had the same backyard. In fact, they were so close that they did almost everything together.
But when they grew up, life took them different directions. One daughter was stricken at a young age with breast cancer and survived to tell the story after a long battle. The same one cared for her invalid mother-in-law for 8 years in her home. She had also had a child who had been born with a serious heart defect. And to make matters worse, her husband had been jobless at the time and they had no health insurance.
The other daughter had a life that almost seemed bereft of trials. She had married a very rich man who loved her. She had 3 healthy, beautiful children who got straight A’s, played soccer, and took music lessons. She never worried about what she was going to feed her family or how they would pay their bills.
One of these daughters was very content and happy with her life. One was not. One praised the Lord with a thankful heart. And one did not. Which do you think was which?
By the circumstances, you would think that the one with the wonderful life would be the content one, right? But…you would be wrong. It was the daughter whose life was full of trials who had the grateful heart. The other daughter took for granted so many of the blessings God had given to her and focused on the things that went wrong in her life.
Sometimes, we have a difficult time seeing the blessings that surround us…that surround each and every one of us. Yes, we all have trials but we also all have blessings.
I will always remember a family that I met while in Ukraine. We were privileged to share a meal with them and we talked with them through an interpreter. Here was a family who lived in one of those cookie cutter Soviet apartment buildings. They had a small kitchen and a tiny bathroom with a water supply for only a few hours each day, and another room that functioned as bedroom, nursery, dining room, and living room. There might have been one other bedroom. Five people lived in that little rundown apartment. And yet this family just radiated with the joy of the Lord. They were blessed and they knew it. They had enough food to share with their brothers and sisters in the Lord and they had a place to sleep at night. They had each other and they had a wonderful church family.
I couldn’t help but contrast it to my life here in America. Not only was I grateful for what I had but I also realized the spirit of discontent that I hear from so many people (sometimes from myself!) so often here in this very materially blessed land.
You see, joy and contentment do not come from what we have. Joy and contentment are the fruit of a grateful heart. We all say this as truth…but are our lives showing we believe it? As Thanksgiving approaches, I hope I do not take any of my many blessings for granted. But instead truly realize the many blessings that God has given me…and thank Him often for those blessings!
The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings! ~Henry Ward Beecher