My youngest son got a great big helium balloon yesterday. He was thrilled with it - an unexpected gift celebrating our Children's Ministry reaching their $5,000 goal to begin drilling a well to serve a community in Honduras. But his enthusiasm was short-lived.
He told his mom, "You know, I have to tell you I'm feeling a little bit jealous." 'Why is that?' "Well, I like my balloon, but my sister got a whole batch of like five balloons. So I don't feel so good about my one balloon."
I called him over and shared I've felt that way before, and I was proud of him for verbalizing his feelings so well. But then I reminded him that his balloon was awesome regardless of what his sister had, and that the children in the village who would be getting a well have never seen a balloon. Not one, much less a big helium one. They drink water that isn't as clean as what we have in our toilet. The point - if we compare what we have to what other people have, we're setting ourselves up for disappointment. We need to be thankful for what we do have, regardless of what we wish we had.
Great timing, as this was exactly the message in our sermon and Children's ministry yesterday. The apostle Paul shares "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:11-12, NIV) Paul's secret for contentment? A spirit of thankfulness, an attitude of rejoicing, in all that we have and are in Christ.
It's easy to think it childish when one of your kids wants five balloons instead of one. But parents, don't we fail to find contentment when we are disgruntled about our house, our old car, our job or co-workers, or spouse? If you're feeling that way, admit it to God, and reflect on the many things you are thankful for.