contentment

Contentment.  Is it possible for me to be content in this situation?  It seems impossible, but God’s word teaches I can learn to be content in every circumstance.

Philippians 4:11-13  I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  

And Robert D. Jones describes contentment this way.  “It is having a satisfied mind in any situation.  It is finding inner satisfaction in God alone and in His provisions for you.  It is experiencing His peace and confidence in difficult times.  It is consciously enjoying the fact that God is good even when your circumstances are not.”

Is such a mindset really possible?  If so, how can I get it?  I believe it starts with this.  I must realize my contentment does not depend on my circumstances!  My spiritual happiness is not reliant on what is happening in my life.  I am not obligated to respond in a certain way through my suffering. I can choose to trust, even when I do not feel like it. I can find inner satisfaction in my relationship with God even when life here seems to crumble. I can find peace in God and comfort from Him, even when my present is riddled with pain. Contentment and sadness can coexist. Contrary to popular belief, happiness is not a prerequisite for contentedness.

But the above is only possible as I reinterpret trials, suffering, and difficulties.  Contentment must come from my Savior and flow from my heavenly Father, not from my circumstances.  Circumstances can change daily, and emotions can change moment-by-moment right now.  But God’s nearness, love for me, and saving grace never change!  As I look to God and rely on His mighty presence and supernatural strength He will bring contentment regardless of my situation.

I tend to place my hope in things other than God without even realizing it.  But this present season of suffering has stripped me of false securities and I am forced to trust in God alone and find my contentment in Him alone. This present pain teaches me to place my hope on nothing but God and my glorious eternity to come, with Him.

Everything in this life will eventually pass away. That has never been more real to me. So I must be careful not to place my hope for a contented life in anything or anyone other than Christ. I want to be more like Paul of Biblical times, from the verse above.  He allowed the trials and suffering of his life to teach him contentment in every circumstance.

So where does my grief fit into all of this? Can I be content and grieve at the same time? I think I can. As J. I. Packer puts it, “Grief is the human system reacting to pain of loss, and as such it is an inescapable reaction. Our part as Christians is not to forbid grief or to pretend it is not there, but to maintain humility and practice doxology as we live through it.” When we lose a loved one, the shock, the hurt, it’s crushing. We are taunted with memories of better days, and we feel weak, hopeless, powerless. But despite the present pain of my loss, despite my suffering, I can learn to trust God and be content with the life He has chosen for me and the life He chose for Grant. Teach me, Lord, as you taught Paul…I want to learn contentment in all circumstances…

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