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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Short End of the Stick (02/20/14)

TITLE: The Joy Thief
By Rachel Malcolm


Sighing, I hung my legs over the deck. Children ran and laughed among the shrubs, and vibrant flowers nodded in the breeze. I looked down at my hands to shut out the beauty.

Abby had just taken me on a tour through her new home. I had laughed, smiled, and congratulated her as she showed me the kitchen adorned with hardwood cabinets and yards of counter space. I exclaimed over the fireplace in the sitting room and the hot tub in the deck that overlooked an oasis of fruit trees and flower beds.

Now that I was alone though, I let the darkness settle in my soul. Why can't this be mine? Why do I always get the short end of the stick? I grumbled to myself, while comparing the perfect surroundings to my own unfinished cabin surrounded by mud.

The words that God said to Cain jumped into my mind. “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?” I shivered even though it was a comfortable day. The feelings of jealousy that I was harbouring were the same feelings that Cain had before he killed his brother.

Raising my face to the sun, I let its rays warm my skin. Forgive me, Lord. Help me to be happy for Abby.

That day was eight years ago, but God has answered that prayer and shown me how to be truly thankful when others are blessed. Here are some of the lessons I've learned:

Acknowledge that jealousy is a deadly sin. Our culture is so comfortable with covetousness that it is difficult for us to understand that jealousy is a sin. It wasn't until I saw my sin compared to Cain's that I got serious about overcoming it. If this is a problem for you, use a concordance to look up verses on jealousy, and ask God to open your eyes in this area.

Work with God. So many times I've tried to overcome my sin in my own strength and I always fail! In 2 Cor. 12:9 God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” We work with God when we depend upon God for the strength to obey.

Choose thankfulness. Jealousy comes down to being dissatisfied with what we have and coveting what another has. Thankfulness, then, is the opposite of jealousy. God taught me to take my complaints and turn them into gratitude. When I grumbled about getting up several times a night with a new baby, God helped me to realize how blessed I was to be a mother. Complaining about a mountain of dishes can be turned into thankfulness for food and a family to share it with. Cultivate an attitude of thankfulness every day. The possibilities are endless.

Turn jealous thoughts into prayer. This is one way to take our thoughts captive (2 Cor. 10:5). When you think an angry or jealous thought about someone, take a moment to pray for that person. Praying for others can be a healing balm for the soul.

After all these years my house still isn't finished, but I know that God has a plan and part of his plan is teaching me to wait. When I visit Abby now, I can enjoy the lovely surroundings and be thankful for her friendship and, that after years of living simply and serving others, she is able to enjoy such a beautiful home.

I wish I could say that I no longer struggle with jealousy, but it's still an ongoing battle. The fight against sin is always worth it, though, and at times I am amazed at the joy and gratitude that now fills my heart. Jealousy may seem benign, but in reality—it is a cancer that eats the soul. Don't let jealousy steal your joy.

The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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This article has been read 278 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Brenda Rice 02/27/14
Wow--such a clear, concise explanation of God's Word on this touchy subject.

Being thankful is the cure for jealousy, but we may have practice it for a while.

Thanks for sharing a well written and interesting entry.
C D Swanson 02/28/14
Powerful message and wonderful writing makes this entry one in which will be remembered for some time to come.

Nicely done.

God bless~
lynn gipson 02/28/14
I was thinking as I read that I would love to have that unfinished cabin in the mud. It's sort of a dream of mine.

This is superb writing, and the message is strong and clear. Never thought about it being compared to Cain.

Very well done.
Allen Povenmire 02/28/14
As a husband of a wife who sometimes suffers from a bit of "house-envy'" I can relate somewhat to your struggle! Perhaps I'll remind her of Cain's envy next time...or, maybe not! I did have a bit of an issue with the wording in the sentence, "I exclaimed over the fireplace in the sitting room and the hot tub in the deck that overlooked an oasis of fruit trees and flower beds." Other than that, well done.
Margaret Kearley 03/01/14
A great piece of writing with very powerful lessons. Thank you for not just pointing out the huge seriousness of our sin but also for the reminders of forgiveness, cleansing, renewal and growing in Him.
Noel Mitaxa 03/01/14
Very descriptive and insightful, for gratitude is the grounds for nullifying most of our personal slights and denying addictive attitudes and behaviours to develop.
Hannah R03/01/14
I didn't even finish the first two paragraphs yet and I had to comment. this reminds me so much of how in the recent Amish book "Rosemary Opens Her Heart" by Naomi King, Rosemary's character felt sometimes when she was being sought after by a man too soon (to her) after her husband's death. There's an Abby in the story who is just like how you put and she befriends Rosemary. :)Thought that was so cool. :)
Hannah R03/01/14
This was very well written and I really enjoyed the style you chose, almost devotional-like. Very good reminder as I have this issue sometimes too. Loved it!!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/02/14
This is a powerful devotion. You did a fantastic job of pulling me in right away. I could see the conflict and totally relate to it. I think it is something every person struggles with on one level or another. (The grass is always greener on the other side.)

The tiny bit of red ink would be the topic. If I didn't know what it was I would have guessed jealousy. True, if you're jealous, I guess you could feel like you have the short end of the stick. For me personally, I'd have enjoyed seeing more examples. Just to show you what I mean, maybe you could have done something like: "If I weren't ill, then I'd be able to afford a house like this. It's not fair. Why did I have to get sick? Why was my husband laid off? Why did my son have to total my car? The stupid deer had to jump out right then;if it had waited just a second longer we could have used the money to buy a house like this, but no, we had to pay hospital bills and car repairs. It's just not fair!"
I know I went a bit overboard, but I wanted you to see what I meant. I also realize these might not have happened to you and the dilemmas are only my way to show you what I mean.

It really is just a tiny thing and it could be only my opinion. You definitely didn't totally miss the topic though, so I doubt it will count against you in the judges'eyes. Your message is a powerful one and I appreciate how you backed it up with just the right Scripture. You brought the story full circle. I could feel your passion in your words and have no doubt that God will use those words in wonderful ways. Thanks for being brave enough to share your feelings with me. I know that's not easy, but you are making a difference. Well done.
Dusty Fontaine03/04/14
I love the way you started with the story of you being jealous of Abby and then turned it into a lesson study. Breaking down what you learned over the years and solidifying it with scripture. Nice work.

Like someone mentioned above, I don't think the word "exclaimed" is the word you wanted. Also, and this is just me: when you wrote "the words that God said to Cain jumped into my mind," the vision of words jumping was a little confusing. But that is probably just my weird mind.

I really enjoyed this piece and I always look forward to reading your writing.

Bea Edwards 03/05/14
You gave several fantastic pieces of Godly advise in this devotional.
Specifically-'the endless possibilities' whilst 'cultivating and attitude of thankfulness'-thank you for this wise council!
C D Swanson 03/06/14

God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 03/06/14
Congratulations on ranking 4th in your level and 23 overall. Happy Dance!
Sheldon Bass 03/07/14
Oh I'm so thankful I decided to read a couple more entries! What a fantastic message this is.

You did an excellent job of weaving the truths of God's word with your testimony and story. Very well written too. This is along the same lines of my often style of bible teaching over the years: Taking from how God has taught me and sharing it with others.

Powerful and effective writing.Keep the good stuff coming.