Weekly Sabbath Survey
Contentment — 1-2-2015
One of the more difficult things to accomplish in Christian growth is being content and happy and satisfied with whatever our current circumstance happens to be. Ernest Hemmingway opined, Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know. Someone else said we are usually about as happy as our most miserable child. So it seems there are various factors such as IQ and life circumstances that have a big impact on just how happy we are at any given time. Joy is another word we use for when our happiness is very full. Our heart is merry and we are feeling fulfilled.
Psychologists tell us there are several personality types in humans with some of us seeming just destined to be happier than others. There have been comparisons to the characters in the Winnie the Pooh stories. Winnie is almost always happy. He is also kind of dimwitted at times. Eyeore is always down in the dumps, almost never sees the bright side of anything. And so forth. I lend some credibility to this, because I know from my own experience when I have worried about things other people didn’t know were a problem. Once I shared with my sister that I was concerned a couple we knew were getting along so badly they might divorce. She poo-pooed my observation and assured me I was a horrible worry-wart, and they would work it out. I felt dismissed and my concerns not validated as a reason for extra prayer. But in less than a year, the couple in question was divorced. I pointed it out to my sister and was told, “OK. So, you worried and fretted yourself and they still got divorced. What good did the worrying do?” Hmmm.
At that point, I felt I should explore the possibilities of someone like me LEARNING to be content, neither worried nor dissatisfied. I would have to learn it, because I was too seriously minded for it to come naturally. And I am one of those who “sees” things. I never will be able to easily gloss over the obvious (to me) problems, but I have learned I can avoid being Eyeore all the time, too. Many things can be prayed over and left with the Lord until the next prayer time. One wise person said, “Every night, I give my problems to God and go on to sleep. He’s going to be up all night anyway.”
I felt The Teacher showing me contentment hinges on how well I cultivate the fruit of Holy Spirit. The list of “fruits” ends with Self-Control. Having more of that enables me to stop going off the deep end when things go horribly wrong. I pray for Holy Spirit to grow me some more self control, and more peace. Paul bragged that he had mastered the contentment thing. He listed all the various bad things that had happened to him, many good reasons to complain and be unhappy. But instead, he was ready to (and did) give up his own life for the ministry of Christ. I began to think our commitment has something to do with contentment. The more committed I am to Jesus, the more content I will be.
When my oldest son was a baby of about 8 months old, my Mama cautioned me about going too quickly into his room when he cried a little at bedtime or woke up in the night crying. She said babies needed to learn how to calm themselves and go on to sleep without the constant intervention of their mother. I wonder if we are like babies sometimes: too overwrought about our problems to calm ourselves in our spirit, crying and crying until God does something or sends somebody. Have you ever wondered why the Lord doesn’t speed His way to the site of our latest tantrum? Many times the solution to our angst is in ourselves with the tools He has given us: the indwelling Holy Spirit, the “fruit” I mentioned, and prayer and praise. All can be used to ward off that anxiety and discontentment that keeps us up at night.
Years later, I am for the most part more calm and contented. I still have my moments. I can still get very upset. And there are days when I GOT THE BLUES for no real reason. But these are not as frequent nor as long-lived as they used to be. If I have a melt down, or bad day, I get over it as quickly as I can, get back on the sunny side of life and keep on serving the Lord.
I have learned to be content. I know how to submit to lack and I know how to enjoy abundance, how to be filled and affluent, how to suffer need and want Some think Godliness is financial gain. But Godliness with contentment is great gain. Phil. 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 6:5-6