One of the mysteries of our culture is that we are the most privileged and prosperous people who have ever lived on the face of the earth, and yet many Americans are not happy. We have more of everything, and yet we’re not content. Even when good things happen we figure out why it wasn’t good enough.
For example, back in 2004 the Oprah Winfrey Show celebrated its 19th season. It was airing in 109 countries around the world, and Oprah wanted to do something really special to show her appreciation. Do you remember what she did? The 276 audience members that special day were selected because friends or family had written about their need for a new car. One couple had 400,000 miles on their two vehicles, and one mom wrote in that her son drove a car that looked like it had been in a gunfight. Oprah began her show that day by calling 11 people out of the audience onto the stage. She gave each of them a new Pontiac G6.
Then Oprah distributed a gift box to everyone in the audience, telling them that one of them contained the keys to a 12th new car. And whoever got the box with the keys in it would get the 12th car. When the audience opened the boxes, each one had a set of keys in it. Oprah jumped up and down and yelled, “Everybody gets a car…everybody gets a car…everybody gets a car!” There wa pandemonium as everyone yelled and hugged each other. Then they went out into the parking lot of Oprah’s Harpo Studios, and there were all the cars, all decorated with giant red bows.
But an interesting thing happened in the days and months after the give-away. People who received brand new cars started complaining, because even though the local taxes and licensing fees were covered as a part of the gift, the IRS was adding the $28,000 value of the car to the income of all those who received a free car. That meant they had to pay more taxes, and they didn’t like it. Their car insurance increased, and they didn’t like it. Some of the angry winners thought they should be given extra cash to cover these expenses as well. Many ended up not so grateful.
Maybe you’ve been grumbling and complaining lately. Maybe you’ve said, “Lord, I’m struggling; show me what I have to be thankful for.” As we enter into the season of Thanksgiving I want to encourage you to develop and cultivate a grateful heart. Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t have. Focus on being a blessing, not on getting a blessing. And focus on eternity, not on the things of earth. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 the Apostle Paul exhorts us with these words: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.”
Working together with you to remember that God is good,