Summary: It’s time that we start learning to give thanks for all that God has blessed us with.
Scripture text: Psalms 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
Happy Sabbath! Let’s start with a word of prayer. Happy Thanksgiving! Did you have a good Thanksgiving? I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! What would a wonderful thanksgiving look like? Lots and lots of turkey. Or maybe lots of time to sleep and relax. Would these things make a good Thanksgiving? What do you think would make this Thanksgiving holiday most wonderful? What if you had many many things to be thankful for? Were you thankful during these past few days? Did you take the time to realize how much God has blessed your life? Were you happy because of the many blessings that you have?
I recently listened to a tape of a female chaplain who worked at the Severance hospital at Yonsei University. Let me share with you some of the things that she spoke about. One day, this chaplain was in the lounge with the janitors. She heard the janitors talking about how they envied the cooks in the cafeteria. They envied the cooks because they received official recognition as hospital employees. So this chaplain went to go visit the cooks. She told them about how the janitors envied them. The cooks said, “We cook at home and we cook at work.? “Do you know how hot it is in here?? “We envy the office workers who have air conditioning.? So this chaplain went to the office workers and told them about how the cooks envied them. So the office workers said, “Why do they envy us?? If you want to work in the hospital, you have to be at least a nurse.? “You need to have direct contact with the patients.? “We envy the nurses.? So the chaplain went to the nurses and told them about how the office workers envy them. Their reply was, “Why do they envy us?? “The patients always want to see the doctor.? “They despise us.? “We envy the doctors.? So the chaplain went to the doctors and told them about how the nurses envied them. This is how the doctors replied. “Do you know how hard it is to be a doctor?? “There are so many strange diseases.? “And when we heal them, do you know what the patients say?? They say, “we are well because the chaplain prayed for us.? So us doctors become unimportant. We envy the chaplain. So obviously the most happy person in the hospital must be the chaplain, right? Wrong. Do you know who the chaplain envies? The female chaplain envies the pastor. She says, “I envy the pastor because I have to retire when I am 60, but the pastor can work till he is 65.? “And the pastor receives a bigger salary.? “And when I go to see the patients, they despise me.? “They always want to see the pastor.?
I’m sure that you see the point. People always find happiness by comparing themselves with others. And by trying to get what they don’t have. People without houses envy those with houses. A person with a little house wants a bigger house. A person without a job wishes they had a job. A person with a blue collar job wants a white collar job. We all do this don’t we. I admit it, I do it to. I’m trying to break out of this habit. But yes I do it.
By comparing ourselves with others do we find happiness? Do we find happiness by trying to get what we don’t have? Most of us spend a lot of time thinking about what we want. We do this for a simple reason. We believe that if we get what we want, we will be happy. But this really isn’t true. If you look at the workers of the Severance hospital in Yonsei University, you know it is not true. When you look back on your own experience in life, you know it is not true. You grew up. Your received a diploma. You earned rewards. You received a promotion. You raised a family. Many, many times in your life, you received exactly what you hoped for, but the happiness seems to disappear. Let me help you understand why this happiness seems to disappear. Let me share with you what I learned from a book called Shortcut Through Therapy by psychologist Richard Carlson. By the way, Richard Carlson is well-known for his best-selling series of books called Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff. According to this psychologist, happiness comes when we can lessen the gap between what we have and what we want. Our problem is that once we get what we want, we have a bad habit of letting our minds drift towards something that would be better. Our drifting minds keep us from having a spirit of thankfulness. Many of us have not learned to appreciate what we have. Instead we have learned to believe that the next desire, or the next achievement will be better. If we are in the habit of always focusing on what we want, we will always feel dissatisfied. For example, let’s say you won 10 million dollars in the lottery. Of course, we don’t play the lottery. But this is just for an example. You could win 10 million dollars in the lottery and still feel dissatisfied or worried if you focused your attention on the taxes the government would be taking out of your winnings. Do you understand what we are saying? It is where you place your attention that determines how you’re going to feel. So if we want to be happy, what should we do? We need to move away from focusing on what we think would make us happy. And we need to learn to focus on what we have. We need to learn to focus on what we have. We need to learn to be thankful for what we have.