The key to happiness

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  -Psalm 107:1

Several years ago I went on a mission trip, where we were presumably helping a young church near Tijuana, Mexico. Of course, as often happens in such cases, they blessed us as much as we blessed them, perhaps more so. We did a little construction, a little logistical consulting, and a little community outreach, and also visited with some of the members in their homes. The biggest thing I learned on that trip was that joy has little to do with circumstances and generosity has little to do with wealth.

The Christians we encountered in that little church had next to nothing in the way of money or possessions. They had hard lives doing hard work in a hard location. And they were some of the most joyful and giving people I have ever met. They were thrilled to have Christian brothers from the United States come and visit. In one home, we were served a chicken dish that we later learned was all the meat that family would have eaten in the course of a month. They would gladly eat rice and beans for the next three weeks for the privilege of sharing their best with these strange visitors who could barely speak their language. 

How does that happen? In a word, gratitude. They were thankful for everything they had, without worrying about what they didn't have. They were thankful for a Savior who had redeemed them. They were thankful for one another. They were thankful to be counted worthy to share the hope of the gospel in a hopeless community. They continually praised a Father who provided what they needed, day by day by day.

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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  -Philippians 4:12-13

As you enjoy the Thanksgiving leftovers this week, having survived the holiday travel and perhaps some family drama with relatives you only see a couple times a year, consider something that will improve your quality of life: Make Thanksgiving a habit and not just a one-day excuse to overeat, watch football, and grab a Black Friday deal or two. Not saying those things aren't fun, but they won't change your life. Gratitude will. In December, we'll look back at the stories we shared in 2018 and do some vision-casting for Convoy in 2019. But this week, we have a chance to continue in thanksgiving. For a head start, I would offer the following:

  • Negativity Fast (Convoy blog post, first shared in Aug 2017) - https://www.convoynwa.org/blog/2017/10/18/ahh-sweet-victory

  • Louie Schwartzberg TED Talk - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXDMoiEkyuQ

  • Kid President 25 Reasons to be Thankful - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA5Qpt1JRE4

Have a strong week, men!

Scott Thompson