This year we celebrated Father’s Day with four dads in our family: my father-in-law, my husband and both our sons. And in the midst of all the joy I really missed my dad. Dad lived a fairly long life, but it was not long enough for me. Life is short!
In The Art of Divine Contentment Thomas Watson compares our lives to a day: daybreak is the period of our infancy, the sun rising is our youth, the full sun in the afternoon is our adulthood, sunset marks our old age, evening is that time of frailty and/or illness, and the darkness of death awaits us. We are here for a day.
I think looking at photos helps us gain a bit of perspective. This is my mom and dad when they were young. Just a couple years after this photo I was born. In my mind’s eye, they still look much like this. I remember mom curling her hair with bobby pins and dad combing up a pompadour. It wasn’t that long ago.
This was shortly before dad passed away.
This is a photo of me as a baby at the beginning of my day…
It is now getting close to supper time in the day of my life. Time is really short.
So how does keeping the perspective of the brevity of life help to work contentment in our hearts? Here are some suggestions…
Life is short, and our difficulties will soon be past.
It is hard for me to reconcile being angry, bitter, jealous, covetous, frustrated, or demanding of my own way when I realize that my days on earth are limited. Why would I choose to spend the precious commodity of energy and time that is my allotment on negativity and discontent? Thinking that my day is soon over should make me want to live every moment in harmony with others and especially with God. There is no room for discontent.
“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” – James 4:14 NIV
God gives us everything we need to get through the day.
God is sufficient and God doesn’t skimp; he provides everything we need to get us from daybreak to nightfall. It may not be all that we think we want, but I must trust that God knows what is best. At the end of the day you and I will not be lacking for anything.
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:31-33 NIV
The hardness and terrors of this life are all the hell we will ever experience.
Life may be difficult, things may not be as we’d like them, but we will never experience the wrath of God in hell. Our hell is temporary. It has an end. It is an easy hell; unlike the unbeliever’s which will be experienced for all eternity.
“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:9 NIV
God is with us in the midst of all our suffering.
No matter how difficult things are in this life, God is with us. He will never leave us. He will never forsake us. He will uphold, strengthen, walk with, carry, love, protect, and persevere us.
“‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals to do me?’” – Hebrews 13:5
The temporary suffering we have here is nothing compared to the glory that awaits us.
When we focus on the suffering in our lives – and yes there is suffering – we might forget that there is an eternal glory awaiting us. When we turn our eyes upon Jesus, as the hymn says, “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18 NIV
Our trials will not outlive us. Our trials will not go into heaven with us. Our trials are as short lived as our days, and soon we will find ourselves sitting at the throne of glory praising our Savior for all eternity. Life is short; our trials are not long.
If we can develop a habit of seeing the length of our days as God sees them, recognizing the suffering of this life has no comparison to the unending joy of heaven, then perhaps we can learn contentment.
Are you discontent because you are suffering? How does your suffering compare with the glory that awaits you? How heavy is the burden of discontent that you are carrying? Do you have the time to spare that discontent requires?
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
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