Monday, May 17, 2010

The Joy of Contentment--Part 2

At long last, here is Part 2 for "The Joy of Contentment." One of the facets of God that I believe in the most is that He has a sense of humor. And because He is a sovereign God, His sense of humor is timely!

During my hiatus from the blog world, which has been over a month now, God has been dealing with me on a different aspect of contentment. And that, my dear friends, is the aspect of state of being. He hasn't dealt with me on this aspect anywhere near as frequently as He has the aspect of material things or my physical appearance (as discussed in Part 1). However, as I said above, He has a marvelously well-timed sense of humor. And though He hasn't dealt with me on being content in my current state as frequently as other aspects of contentment, the teaching sessions have not been less painful.

Even if I am not actively writing on this blog, I'm always musing over possible subjects, anecdotes, etc. with which to write a post. So, my mind is always set to "Play" if not "Fast Forward". Okay, it's usually set to "Fast Forward". I've never been known for being a patient person. One thing God has used motherhood to teach me is the practice of appreciating the beauty of a moment. I say "practice" because taking time to smell the proverbial roses is not an action that comes naturally to me. Sometimes God wants to make sure I don't forget how to appreciate those moments and how to be content, as Paul said, in whatever state I am (Phil. 4:11).

Just over a month ago, I experienced a very painful neck injury. It was a fairly minor injury, but it was debilitating nonetheless. As a result of this injury, I wasn't able to hold or to take care of my daughter for several days, and I also missed two races. It did not take me long to realize that this setup was a prime learning opportunity if I would allow it to be so. I had the choice to fight the situation, and in the process drastically slow down my recovery, or to relax and to submit to God, choosing to be content even in my albeit short-term debilitated state.

In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul writes, "
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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" (Phil. 4:11-13 NIV, emphasis mine). Now granted, I have never faced the same caliber of trials as Paul had: multiple shipwrecks, floggings, abandonment, times of hunger and exposure, etc. But, the secret to which Paul refers to can be learned by anyone, regardless of degree of trials. Philippians 4:5b-7 says, "The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." In these verses, Paul provides us with the prescription for contentment. Because our kind and gracious Lord is near, we do not need to be anxious, fretful or worried. Rather, we should be praying and supplicating (asking God for help) with praise and thanksgiving in every situation.

In addition to being impatient, I'm also a chronic worrier. And for me, discontentment and worry often go hand-in-hand. Discontentment is a strong state of mind. But glory be to the most high God that His peace is an even stronger state of mind! His peace is perfect, going beyond our measly human ability to comprehend. When I allow God's peace to settle my mind and spirit, being an umpire for my soul (Col. 3:15 AMP), I feel perfect contentment, regardless of present circumstances. I know that I can trust my loving, faithful Father to provide what is best for me and to work out every situation for my good (Rom. 8:28).

If you are in a state of discontentment today, I challenge you to let it all go in prayer, with thanksgiving. And as my beloved Grandpa says, may the peace of God be with you!