The Standard May 26, 2022
Last month I received a text from one of my best friends, a woman among several who try to encourage spiritual development with sisters in the faith. This encouragement often results in us challenging one another as well. She wrote, “I was just confessing this morning that I want to be content and happy with what I have (namely this house!). Because life is mine through Christ!”
Over 25 years ago, with two young sons, she and her husband purchased a suburban home. It probably was not a dream house for either of them, and likely neither aspired for it to be their “forever” home. Now, after an additional two children who have joined the oldest two as young adults, she might have hoped for a place with a much larger yard, perhaps even an acre or two out in the country. Her message stuck with me. Being content is a choice, and as she noted, only with God’s help we can achieve it.
How many of us go through life with a case of the “if onlys?” If only I found that perfect mate and special love, my existence would be full of bliss. If only I could attend this vocational school, college, or university, I would get on a great path. If only I got that excellent job, I could feel satisfied. If only I had more money, I would be happy. If only I could become a parent, I would be fulfilled. If only I could get an amazing house in a terrific neighborhood or on a picturesque lot, my life would be excellent. The list could go on.
Temporal things, even the ones we swore we needed, often do not satisfy. Life continually throws curve balls at us. Studies show that more and more people today are feeling depressed, anxious, and lonely. Certainly, mental health is a crucial issue and should not be ignored. I am speaking more of those who are trying desperately to make material things or personal relationships fulfill deep needs. God alone can fill that empty vacuum, as Pascal said in the 1600s. Through Jesus Christ, we can be more content at this very moment. Our focus should be on all that God has done and given. The Apostle Paul showed us this, even having been beaten and imprisoned on numerous occasions. Perhaps we can heed his example to choose contentment.
“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for 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 all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:10-13)
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, person of God, flee from all of this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:6-11)