“I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” – Philippians 4:11b NLT
It’s 2 a.m. and the sweet voice of our toddler calls out in the darkness, “I wanna dink!” I roll over and hope that he’s not as thirsty as he thinks he is and that he will fall back to sleep. It’s quiet… maybe… nope.
“I wanna dink!”
Ugh. I haul out of bed and without turning on a light, I make my way to the bathroom, fill a cup and take it to him. There he is, my precious little red-head, standing in his crib, his big brown eyes looking up at me…
I hand him the water. He drinks, lays down, grabs his pacifier with one hand, twirls his hair with the other and his eyes are closed before I can bend down to kiss him goodnight. I fall in love with my little guy all over again, head back to bed and to sleep.
The next night… “I wanna dink!” Are you kidding me? Fortunately, this momma is on top of things – there is a cup of water by his bed.
“Bobby,” I call out to him, “There’s water by your bed.” He starts to cry. “Not that one! That one!”
I know what he wants: a fresh cold drink. I go to his room, pick up the cup and lie, “Bobby, this is fresh, cold water.” I hand him the water, he drinks, lays down, grabs his pacifier with one hand, twirls his hair with the other and his eyes are closed before I can bend down to kiss him goodnight.
This happened often enough that Brian and I still, to this day, will laughingly say to each other, “Not that one, that one” when we have to make a choice of similar things. In Bob’s defense, he was taking allergy meds that made him really thirsty, and everyone knows fresh water is way more refreshing than water that’s been sitting for hours on the nightstand. However, I was not amused in the fall of 1985 at 2 a.m. night after night.
I assume that God is not very amused with us when we grumble and complain about the way he wisely chooses to meet our needs either. We want what we want, and we tell God what we want and when he gives us what we need, we say, “Not that one! That one!”
Not that house, that one! Not that friend, that one! Not that job, that one! Not that car, that one! Not that spouse, that one! Not that diagnosis, that one! Not that income, that one! Not that solution, that one! Not that ministry, that one!
What are we truly saying to God when we complain about our circumstances? “I know better than you do what is good for me.” “Your mighty arm is not mighty enough to rescue me.” “I won’t like you if you don’t give me what I want.” “God, listen up, let me tell you what you don’t know.” What?! Are we so arrogant? Are we so immature? Are we spiritual toddlers?
Why is it so difficult to be content no matter the circumstances? Why aren’t we continually grateful? After all, we are alive, we are breathing, we have been saved by God’s grace. We have a God who meets our every need. We are destined for eternal life in heaven. Why do we struggle with discontent in this life?
I say, “we” because I am still trying to learn the secret of contentment. I want what I want and when I don’t get it I am often not the happiest of campers. I’ve been known to grumble, complain, whine, murmur and pout. Yet, I know that God commands me to be content.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” (Philippians 2:14 NIV)
“…be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5 NIV)
Is God’s promise and presence not sufficient? Is what God gives to me insufficient? Is God not wise enough to know exactly what I need? Could it be that the circumstances of my life are the tools God is using to teach me contentment? The Apostle Paul had to learn contentment…
“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 4:12-13
I know God will give me strength to learn, and then to live, contentedly. I know that contentment isn’t about my outward circumstances but the state of my heart. My goal is to learn and live in contentment because that reflects the glorious wisdom and provision of my amazingly good God.
The secret of contentment is too big to unwrap in one blog post so I have chosen to use it for the “Summer Challenge” each Tuesday from now through August. I will lean heavily on Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Thomas Watson’s The Art of Divine Contentment, and William B. Barkley’s “The Secret of Contentment.
If you don’t want to miss a post on contentment, and are not currently a follower of this blog, simply click “follow” at the top of the right column. As a follower you will receive an email each time a post is published.
Click here for week 1 — “Not That One, That One!”
Click here for week 2 — “Contentment Defined!”
Click here for week 3 — Tool #1: “Search The Heart”
Click here for week 4 — Tool #2: “Remember That Life Is Short”
Click here for week 5 — Tool #3: “Listen To Your Words”
Click here for week 6 — Tool #4: “Compare Wisely”
Click here for week 7 — Tool #5: “Live Out Your Faith”
Click here for week 8 — Tool #6: “Enjoy Your Pasture”
Click here for week 9 — Tool #7 “The Promises of God”
Click here for week 10 — “When Discontent is the Right Thing”
Click here for week 11 — “In Defense of Discontent”
Click here for week 12 — “Breaking Bad: The Danger of Discontent”
Click here for week 13 – What’s Next