Contentment


It’s funny.  I turned on Air1 just after I finished writing my last blog post.  The song that had been playing ended and the dj took a call and they ended up talking about contentment.  Um, hello Grace, are you listening?  I’m pretty sure it was no accident that I tuned in when I had.

Con-tent-ment
Noun: A state of happiness and satisfaction

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  
Matthew 6:25

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 
Matthew 6:32-33

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 everything through Him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7

I haven’t been content lately.  No, I’ve been rather discontent actually.  I’ve been anxious and worried and sad and scared.  I’ve tried to trust my husband.  I’ve tried to trust God.  But the reality is, I haven’t been really putting my trust or my faith in either of them, at least not fully. 

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Did you catch that last part?  Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.  Well, I haven’t been doing so well in the trusting and hoping categories.  I can choose to assume the worst, give up hope, not trust my husband to lead our family and not trust God to keep us in his care…OR…I can choose to assume the best, not giving up hope and trusting my husband to lead our family, trusting God to keep us in his care.

Our society thrives on discontentment.  We have a sense of entitlement.  We have expectations that are sometimes just plain unrealistic.  We don’t like to be pushed out of our comfort zone.  We feel like we need to have more, when most of us already have way more than we need.  And the list goes on.

But God wants us to be content, no matter our circumstances.  It’s hard.  But just think about how your life would be different if you trusted in God and were able to just be content.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do whatever you can to try to alleviate whatever negative circumstances you find yourself in.  But rather, give all the anxiety and worry and fear to God, even in the midst of the storm, especially in the midst of the storm.  How different would that be?  How different would that feel?  It may not change the circumstances, but worrying and feeling anxious and afraid isn’t going to help either.  The reality is that storm may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.  How do you choose to feel in the meantime?   What affect does that have on you?  What affect does that have on your family, your friends, your co-workers, anyone you come into contact with?

At a church we used to attend I met an older lady who just seemed so content all the time.  Regardless of her circumstances, no matter if everything was going well or if it wasn’t, nothing seemed to shake her sense of contentment.  That was so unusual to me and she really made quite an impression.  I grew up with a mom who, while wonderful in many ways, was borderline paranoid sometimes she worried so much and trust wasn’t really one of her strong points.  Anyway, over time I got to know the older woman at church better and when she moved away we kept in touch and she started to share more with me about her life.  What I found out was that this woman, who was always so content, had a really rough childhood.  There was abuse and abandonment and all sorts of horrible things for anyone to go through, much less a child.  She had known suffering and that shaped her perspective.  She had learned to trust God and she had learned to lean on him in tough times.  She had an eternal perspective, meaning that she realized that her life in this world was only temporary and as such so was hardship and suffering.  She had learned to find and focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative.  She had learned that there was always hope even when things seemed impossible.  She was a wise woman and I miss her.  She certainly left an impression on me. 

Sometimes I get too caught up in circumstances and I forget to trust and I forget to hope.  I forget to just be content.  I’m going to work on that, all of that.  I need to always hold out hope and I need to put my trust in God and in my husband, not just say I’m trying to, but actually do it.  It won’t be easy.  It’s a hard task and one that goes against our very nature as humans living in a fallen and sinful world.  But if I can do it, I think it will be very freeing.  I’d say that I need to give up control and choose to be content instead.  But, the reality is, I’m not in control now, God is.  What I need to give up is my need to feel in control, the pretense of being in control, my self reliance, put my faith and trust in God, and embrace contentment.

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