Opinion

Want To Be Happy?  Don’t Give In to Envy

By Rev. Joseph M. Esper

Once upon a time, there was a stonecutter who was very unhappy with his life.  One day he passed the home of a wealthy merchant and noticed the man’s many possessions and the important visitors to his home.  He thought, “How truly blessed that man is!  How I wish I could be like him—no, how I wish I could be him!”

To his great surprise and amazement, the stonecutter’s wish was granted; he suddenly found that he was the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he could ever have imagined.  Life was wonderful—until he noticed an important official pass by, carried in a sedan chair and attended by servants and escorted by soldiers.  “How powerful that official is,” he thought.  “I wish I could be that official.”

The wish of the former stonecutter-turned-merchant was granted, and he discovered that he was the official he had envied, carried everywhere in his embroidered chair.  However, it was a hot summer day, and he soon felt uncomfortable.  Looking up in the sky, he saw the sun shining proudly, unaffected by his presence.  “How powerful the sun is,” he thought; “I wish I could be the sun!”

gain, his wish was granted, and the man-turned-sun sent his fierce rays down upon everyone on earth.  Then, however, a black cloud moved between him and the earth, blocking his rays.  “How powerful that storm cloud is,” he thought; “I wish I could be that storm cloud!”  No sooner had the thought occurred to him and his wish was granted—but his joy at being a storm cloud lasted only until he found himself being pushed away by the wind.  “How powerful the wind is,” he thought—and his wish that he might become the wind was immediately fulfilled.

The stonecutter-turned-merchant-turned-official-turned-sun-turned-storm cloud-turned wind was very happy—until he came up against something he couldn’t move, no matter how hard he tried:  a huge stone.  “How powerful that stone is,” he thought—and because he wished it, he immediately became the stone, more powerful than anything on earth.  “Now I am strong and happy and satisfied,” he thought.  Then, however, he heard the sound of a chisel hammering into solid rock, and he felt himself being changed.  “What could be more powerful than I, the greatest stone on earth?” he asked himself.  He looked down and saw, far below, the figure of a stonecutter.

We can spend our lives envying others, regretting our circumstances, and running after our whims and desires—or we can surrender ourselves to God’s will, trusting that He has a plan for us and that our efforts to fulfill the mission we’ve received from Him truly will make a difference and lead us to genuine happiness.  As the proverb says, “Envy shoots at others and wounds itself.”  Instead of wanting things that aren’t meant for us (probably because they wouldn’t be good for us), we must learn to accept God’s will in all things, and choose to be grateful for what we’ve been given—for only in this way can we truly be at peace.

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