Contentment. Just the word brought weariness to my disheartened soul. I knew what God asked of me was to find contentment in Him and not in my circumstances, but don’t we know all too well how much easier it is said than done? Eager to drink new waters and see new lands, my husband and I packed our bags and moved life to the tropical island of Haiti. We knew this was the next season for us, we knew we were more than competent for the task we would be given, but what we didn’t know was the specific difficulties we would face once there.
Amidst the excitement of stepping out in faith, seeing God provide, and the new chapter of life ahead, we made the error of assuming being in the will of God equates to a happy and content life.
There’s a part of being human that makes it difficult to admit things are hard when you didn’t think they would be. Your pride tells you not to voice this to anyone because it could make you look weak, make people question your decision-making abilities, make people question if you correctly heard from God. Or worse, make yourself question if you even heard from God about the topic. In our weakness, fear drives us to silence and weakness becomes weariness, which becomes withdrawal.
Ever been there?
Have you ever thought, “God I know you provided this, so why is it so difficult?”
I’m afraid us Christians too easily fall under the beliefs of our culture instead of our Christ.
You see, Jesus didn’t promise his disciples a life of ease as a reward for following Him. Actually, He promised just the opposite. In Matthew 8 we see an eager man telling Jesus he will follow Him wherever He goes. Jesus replies, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (v20). Another man approaches Jesus, desiring to follow him, but first wanting to go bury his father who just died. How does Jesus respond? “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead” (v22).
Ouch! Was Jesus heartless? No, but He was honest. And He wasn’t going to create a false expectation of grandiose living in the name of Christ. In his commentary on this passage Matthew Henry said, “If Christ requires our service, affection even for the nearest and dearest relatives, and for things otherwise our duty, must give way. An unwilling mind never wants an excuse”. Our American Dream-soaked culture has invaded Christianity and told us that we can pursue all worldly comforts and gains and still have all of Christ. This isn’t so.
All of this is not to say that life in Christ lacks happiness, laughter, joy, and contentment. Certainly, all of these accompany the devout disciple. But all of these come as a discipline, as a choice to be joyful and find contentment, despite the circumstances in which the disciple may find himself.
On the wall of our bathroom hanging for us to see everyday a passage is a scripture we are clinging to. It reads:
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment,
For we brought nothing into the world
And we cannot take anything out of the world.
But if we have food and clothing,
With these we will be content.
1 Timothy 6:6-8
In our moments of discontentment we must find our joy in the Lord. But how do we find joy in the Lord amidst trying conditions, depression, lost purpose, or whatever difficulty we are facing? Psalm 16 says simply, “in Your presence there is fullness of joy” (v11). Fullness.
Without lack or want.
In the presence of God, there is complete joy, complete contentment, and complete life – neither lacking nor wanting in anything.
Everything we need is in that one moment where, on our knees, we fall before the Holy God, cry out, and meet Him.
Yes, contentment is that easy. And yes, contentment is that difficult. It is a learned discipline. It takes devotion and commitment. But it promises the best reward of all: Jesus.
Is there a situation in which you are struggling to be content?
Do you find yourself weary and battle-worn, hoping for refreshment?
Are there times when you have questioned God because of unmet expectations?
Be encouraged friend, and rest knowing in Christ we have a beautiful inheritance. My prayer for you is you are able to seek God despite wanting to press on in pride. I pray you are reminded of the truths of earnestly following after God. I pray you are able, wherever you are right now, to fall before your Heavenly Father and cry out for peace, joy, and contentment. I pray you are able to come into His presence and experience that FULL joy only the Prince of Peace can give. I pray these things over you, and as well for myself, as we do life together, yet miles apart. Know if you are reading these words, you are loved and you are prayed for.