Happy Monday! I’ve been missing for the past few months, I know. But with some nudging and suggestions from a friend (thanks Beth, I needed it!), I’m back. And I’m starting a short series to reflect on what the Lord has done for me in this past year.
Over the last year or so, God has been teaching me a lot about being content. And by His grace and patience, He gives me contentment every day. I don’t remember the last time I smiled as much as I have this year. There was a period in my life where smiling was rare, or forced, and the thoughts running through my head where not quite as sunny as they now are. After facing anxiety, depression, and my self-absorbed mentality that caused most of it, the Lord brought peace, and He taught me how to be content. As I’ve said before I’ll say again: He saves me daily from myself.
So, why a series?
Well, there are a few things that contribute to my new-found content heart. And the first that I want to mention is prayer. But first, a verse to get started.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
This verse often gets taken out of context. How often have you or someone you know used this to say that Jesus was gonna help you win that game that was so important to you, or that He was going to make you super successful at everything you do because He will give you strength to make a lot of money or win that audition? I’ve heard it, so I know we use it that way. And while Jesus very well can give you the strength or ability to do all those things, I don’t think that’s what these verses are saying. In fact, these verses seem to be saying something radically different. They are saying that whether things don’t go the way we want or do go the way we plan, whether we lose completely or win magnificently, we can find contentment in every situation. We can survive any circumstance we might possibly find ourselves in through Christ. Through Him we can survive tough times, and through Him we can survive abundance. The outcome is not what is being stressed here, it’s the attitude despite the outcome.
Which brings me to the next point: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Paul is talking about the Lord obviously, and since that’s the case, prayer is pretty important to this topic.
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to Your word!
When I told of my ways, You answered me; Teach me Your statutes!
When we give our thoughts to the Lord, be they worried, depressed, discontent, or perfectly happy, He takes care of it. He gives us peace.
Let me also stress the importance of stillness, because this goes hand in hand with prayer. We can pray, but sometimes we need to be still and not try to explain or figure it out. We just are still and remind ourselves of our God and His infinite goodness.
Oh Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.
When we are quiet, the Lord can give us contentment. When we stop fighting Him and telling Him that our way is best. When we present our problems and our joys to Him. He makes our lives full. He is our delight. How do we get there? Pray and be still.
You cannot be content in any area of your life until you are content in the Lord. Once that happens, once you find your contentment and your fullness rests in Him, then He will make you content in whatever situation you find yourself in. Even in moments like now, when I feel anxious, He is my source of contentment. I have a constant need to fix things around me, and to avoid breaking them to start with. But in those moments we need to remember that the Lord gives us grace. And that is something to rest in.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have this down perfectly. I’m not writing to give you my magic formula that gave me complete and perfect contentment. Instead, I’m simply trying to share how the process of being content has come about in my life. Believe me, it’s a process. There are still days I forget to seek my comfort, strength, and contentment in Him. But that’s what reminders like this are for!
The first step of the process is communication with God. Seek Him. Know Him. Everything else starts to take a backseat, and we can realize that it may suck right now, but in the beginning and in the end there is God. There is Christ who made a way for us to look forward to something so much better. You will find your contentment in His grace.