Welcome to the world, Caleb “Cal” Shepherd Furrow!
Cal was born in Round Rock, Texas on June 3rd to our son, Bob and his beautiful wife, Jenny. I think if you were to look up “contentment” in a pictorial dictionary, you might find this photo…
Cal was very content here. His tummy was full, his diaper was fresh, his swaddle was tight, and his Yaya was cuddling him. It doesn’t take much to make a newborn content.
And it doesn’t take much to make a newborn discontent. A messy diaper, a loose arm or leg, a hunger pain, a gas bubble, or simply being awake when he wants to be asleep triggers major discontent.
From this Yaya’s perspective, little Cal is a very special boy – perhaps even genius – but like all the rest of us, he must learn that contentment is not contingent on external circumstances.
This is a hard thing to learn because too often we confuse contentment with happiness. Happiness is fleeting and for the most part determined by our outward circumstances. Contentment is a choice of the heart no matter the circumstances.
Jeremiah Burroughs defines Christian contentment as “that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”
- It is sweet – Contentment doesn’t produce a sour disposition. Contentment chooses to accept whatever the hand of God allows because of a deep love for God and trust in his faithfulness, goodness, wisdom and love.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” – Psalm 23:1
- It is inward – Contentment is a heart issue. While the world rages and circumstances are troublesome, contented hearts are at peace. There is calm because God, who is always good, is in control.
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.” – Hebrews 13:6
- It is quiet – Contentment does not argue with God, nor does it fight against the circumstances that God allows. Contentment recognizes God’s grace in what he gives, and God’s mercy in what he withholds. Contentment yields to the wisdom of God and recognizes that every detail of life is either a tool of God for shaping the soul or a medicine to cure an illness of the soul. Contentment is always opposed to grumbling, whining and complaining.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
- It is a gracious frame of spirit – Contentment is like a trellis that stands strong when vines of difficulty grow on it. It holds up the entire person, enabling the spirit and the mind to habitually rest in the knowledge that God always knows what to plant and when to prune.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” – Psalm 91:1
- It freely submits to God – Contentment chooses to submit to God’s hand of discipline, training, rebuking, loving, encouraging, humbling and exalting.
“Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law;” – Psalm 94:12
- It delights in God’s wisdom – Contentment doesn’t challenge God’s choice of circumstances but submits to his wisdom in them. Contentment delights that God is personal and involved in the lives of his children.
“Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” – Psalm 147:5
- It delights in God’s fatherly disposal in every condition – Contentment recognizes that God does all things for the good of his children, is with them in all things, and has a purpose in every detail of our lives.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
We are content when we trust in God, when our focus is on God and when we recognize our circumstances are from God for our good and his eternal glory.
Complaining, whining, crying, pouting, or growing frustrated and angry when things don’t go our way is the outward manifestation of a heart that doesn’t trust God. Discontent arises when we focus on our circumstances and agree with the world that what we have received is opposite of what we deserve or what is fair.
As Christians, we know that God is taking care of us. We know he will feed us, clothe us and cuddle us. We know that he is using our difficult and good times, our empty and full hearts, our grief and joy, our successes and failures, our poverty and wealth, our health and illness to accomplish his purpose. We know we can trust him. However, like Paul, we must learn to be content in all circumstances.
Our little Cal will learn many things throughout his life… I trust that contentment is one of them.
In what area of your life do you struggle most with contentment? Is God glorified in your discontent? What are you saying to God through your discontent? Contentment is a sweet grace that we must learn, it is not a defeated resignation to our circumstances, it is a choice to trust God in our circumstances. Will you choose today to trust that God is at work in your area of discontent?
Next week we will begin looking at tools to help us learn contentment.
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