"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." Proverbs 14:30
Julie followed her mom, and carefully steered the cart around a tower of Diet Coke narrowly missing a sale sign for fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes. Instead she almost bumped into their neighbor, Mrs. Jackson.
"Oh, hi, Linda," Julie's mom said. "Good to see you! How was vacation?"
"It was so great," Linda replied, "It just went way too fast. But that's okay, the kids and I are headed to Minnesota in two weeks to visit their grandparents. I can't wait!"
Julie swallowed a jealous frown and turned to inspect a bag of Oreos, hopeful the women wouldn't see her eyes water with tears.
"Oh, so fun! Do you need anyone to take care of your dog while you're gone?" Julie's mom offered kindly. "Julie can me help look after your house, water your plants or anything you need."
Julie tried not to listen. It's just not fair, she wanted to scream. I want to take a vacation! I want to go spend time my grandparents!
"No thanks," Mrs. Jackson answered. "My husband can't get off work so he's not going with us this time. He'll be here to take care of the dog and the house."
"Well have fun!" Julie's mom waved goodbye, put her hand on Julie's shoulder and guided her toward the checkout line. "Let's go home," she said.
Julie didn't say much as they left the store. Slowly she helped her mom put the groceries in the trunk and then silently buckled herself into the backseat. She was glad her mom didn't ask what was wrong; Julie was deep in thought.
"God," she prayed, "I know that envy is a sin, but sometimes life just doesn't seem fair. Why does Rebecca's family get to take all the vacations? Why can't we do anything fun this summer? I want to travel more, see fun places and visit people."
When they got home, Julie put the milk in the fridge. Still mopey, she headed toward the stairs. "I'm going to my room for a while," she said.
"Why don't you pour us a couple glasses of iced tea and join me on the back porch instead," her mother suggested.
"My tummy hurts," Julie said. "I really don't want to."
"I think I know something that will make you feel better." Mom filled two glasses with ice. "Come join me and bring your Bible."
A few minutes later, Julie sat on the porch swing, dangling her feet in mid-air. She was glad for the screen keeping the lively, summer mosquitoes at bay.
"Open your Bible to Proverbs 14," her mother instructed. "Then, read verse 30 out loud."
Julie flipped to the middle of the book of Proverbs and slowly drug her index finger down the page. There was verse 30.
"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones."
Julie was quiet again.
"What do you think that means?" her mom asked.
"I know that God says jealousy is wrong," Julie answered slowly. "But this verse seems to say that it can even make me sick."
"That's right." Julie's mom reached over to squeeze her hand. "One more verse." She took the Bible and turned to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
"I know you'd like to take a vacation this summer, Julie," Mom said softly. "Your dad and I would too, but we just can't afford it this year. I'm not saying you shouldn't be sad; it's okay to be disappointed. But jealousy is never right and like you read a few minutes ago, it will make you miserableit can even make you sick."
"Then what do I do?" Julie asked, a single tear slipping down her cheek.
"The only thing I know to do is just what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians. We pray and we thank God for all that He has given us and for exactly the circumstances we are in. It has to work, because Paul also says in Philippians 4, that he learned to be content in all circumstances."
Julie's mom reached out and tucked a stray hair behind Julie's ear. "So, do you want to pray with me?"
Father, teach us to be content in all circumstances. Your word tells us that every perfect gift comes from you, so we know Lord that this summer is a good gift from you. Help us to see it through your eyes. We want to be joyful so that we are good witnesses for you. Help us also, Lord, to see how we can bring joy to others. In Jesus' name, amen.
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