What Contentment Isn’t, Finale

Contentment is not complacency!

Contentment “…is not opposed to all lawful seeking for help in different circumstances,” says Jeremiah Burroughs, “nor to endeavouring simply to be delivered out of present afflictions by the use of lawful means.”

In other words, “contentment has nothing to do with ambition.” ~Dave Ramsay.

What it does mean is that I’ve peacefully come to terms with what is my responsibility and what is God’s when it comes to the circumstances of my life.

  1. It’s OK to seek help from others. Years ago, as young parents of small children, on a single income that at times seemed almost transparent it was stretched so thin, my husband and I were blindsided by a major bill for essential dental work. After the shock wore off and we accepted that it was unavoidable, my husband suggested we explain to the dentist our situation. We were surprised and relieved to hear him suggest we pay off  the bill monthly without interest.
  2. It’s OK to make efforts to escape difficulties in life. Unexpectedly during those months, an unusual opportunity came through my husband’s job which allowed me to work at home. I was able to do this simple filing project after the children were in bed and although the extra income didn’t cover the entire bill, it certainly helped.
  3. It’s OK to seek help and try to escape difficulties, but only by legitimate means. It may have been tempting to pay off that dental bill by going back to work (and perhaps, inevitably, to continue working in an attempt to “get ahead”), but it would have meant breaking our commitment to raising our children at home. So for us at that time of our lives, that way of escaping our difficulties would not have been a legitimate option.

The example I’ve given, though daunting and desperate to us at the time, may seem trivial to you or compared to other kinds of trials. What about these situations:

  • a 30-something couple learn they are unable to have biological children.
  • in a freak diving accident, a talented musician/artist/athlete becomes a quadriplegic.(http://www.joniandfriends.org/jonis-corner/jonis-bio/)
  • police arrive in the wee hours of the morning to tell a middle-aged couple their teenage son has been killed in a hit and run (pedestrian) accident.

In each of these situations there may be a sense of loss, disappointment, grief, fear, worry, anger or panic to varying degrees. Or maybe even the whole list. Contentment may be the last thing a person would feel under those circumstances. It just wouldn’t be natural. (If newborns could talk, they’d verify this. There’s always something to fuss about!)

But that’s exactly the point. Contentment is not a natural state. It has to be learned and honed and maintained; something that takes supernatural power. Because it is a state of mind, it requires a mind transplant.

“…be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” the apostle Paul wrote. (Rom. 12:2) “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…” (1 Cor. 5:17)

And even with that “brain washing” done, contentment seems to take a very, very long time. A lifetime, really. Just when I think I’ve made progress, a new difficulty or stage of life tests me. I believe it’s part of what Jesus meant when he said the most important commandment is to love God with all our mind. And I believe the reason it takes a lifetime is because our discontent is meant to drive us to Jesus.

“Because God has made us for Himself,

our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”

 ~Augustine of Hippo

What are the difficulties that are driving you towards Jesus these days?

 

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