Posts Tagged ‘contentment’

Delayed Gratification is Still Coveting

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011


How long is your wish list? When you see something that you want at a store, do you buy it right away, or do you wait and pray about whether God wants you to have it or not?

I used to go the mall with my best friend, looking through the store windows. I would see a pair of black lace-up boots that would look lovely with a dress I had. So I would go inside, only to find out they cost over $100. Oh, well, I thought to myself. Some day when I’m rich…

But even though I delayed my gratification, I still coveted those boots. Just because I didn’t plunge myself into debt doesn’t mean that I didn’t covet those boots just as much as the woman who did purchase them. Yes, wisdom dictates waiting before purchasing a larger-ticket item, especially if you can’t afford it. But then you think, “What if I come back and they’re all gone?” Does that line of thinking justify my purchase?

On the other hand, God is a loving God who lavishes gifts on us. Time after time God has provided extreme luxuries for me just suddenly out of the blue, providing miraculously something I didn’t deserve. Like the anniversary trip to the Bahamas, where I got the tickets dirt cheap because it was hurricane season. And then instead of vomiting the entire time (which I was expecting due to the weather forecast), God put His hands around the ship and gave us sunshine all day every single day. God is rich. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and He owns me. He owns the hurricanes and storms that were all over the radar, making my sister wring her hands as she prayed for me.

I thought about the thousands of people who died in Japan and Haiti because of a tsunami or an earthquake. The weather <BOOM> killed thousands in one moment. And yet God protected one ship in the middle of a radar with red swirls everywhere. Did God sweetly protect our ship just for Alan and me, because we needed rest so badly after a sad year of suffering? Did my cry reach the ears of God, and did He alter the weather just for me?

Yes, I believe He did. My God controls everything. He rules. Not a single atom is out of His control at any moment.

So God is lavish, even though He sometimes allows us to go through horrendous suffering. I’m not saying that God is stingy, or that you have to have a poverty mentality where you can never have anything you want, hanging your head in a resigned manner. No.

But the vast majority of the things we covet aren’t even what God would want for us. The bigger TV only causes us to spend more time with our idolatry. The cute clothes make us look in the mirror and have vanity. The gorgeous house makes us look at other people’s houses with contempt, because we have better taste.

Our goal in life becomes the accumulation of more and more pieces of matter, arranged carefully around us. The pieces of junk magnify our sin, or they create new areas of sin. They are just pieces of matter that will be burned up at the end of the world. They distract us from our relationship with our Creator.

So are you content? How long is your wish list? Where is your heart?

The Secret of Contentment is Suffering

Monday, November 21st, 2011


Have you ever noticed that people who have never suffered take things for granted and aren’t thankful at all? They just keep wanting more, more, more. They think physical bits of junk will make them happy, and they don’t realize that the shopping high only lasts a day or two, and then the new items are thrown aside, and discontentment sets in again.

Most American women are like this about their homes, too. They are never satisfied. If they finish a renovation, instead of enjoying it, they look around for something else that they are not happy about, and they are never in a state where they can take a deep breath, relax, and be content.

I remember for years I had a large sliding door with a broken window. We nailed a board across the window on the outside, and on the inside we nailed a blanket so as to prevent a draft. It was super ugly. And yet I was content, and I relaxed, knowing that I wouldn’t fix it for years because we didn’t have the money.

Why was I so content, even with unfinished, ugly things? Because my heart isn’t there. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect before I relax. I used to be that way. When you’re pregnant especially, you have a strong nesting instinct where you want the house to be perfect before the baby arrives. I remember that strong urge; it was almost physical. It was a compulsion. And yet with the ugly broken window, I was content and didn’t have to think about how unhappy I was about the window. I WASN’T unhappy. I was sweetly content in my soul. I had peace. Why?

The secret of contentment is suffering.

I have a husband who loves me, and my children aren’t dead. Who cares that my house isn’t perfect if my children are alive? I love them. I have food and shelter. For 6 months in England, I lived in a room with no heat, with ice INSIDE the windows. My whole body hurt badly, and I could see my breath in the morning.

Who cares about the board nailed across the window when I have heat?

You know what I’m saying? The man who slammed the butt of his gun against my head, giving me a partial concussion, didn’t kill me. I’m still alive. I’m breathing. I got married and had babies. I LOVE my life! Who cares about the undone things, the ugly kitchen with the 70’s carpet, or the orange shag rug downstairs which is as ugly as it gets? Who cares? I don’t even care if my house burns to the ground. My heart isn’t here.

I love God. He is where my heart is. And I would scream and probably lose my mind if I lost my husband and children, but I would eventually be okay, because my God rules in the heavens, and He is a good God, and He will never allow anything to occur to me that will not result in the absolute greatest benefit to me. Yes, the horrors of my life have been transformed into immense treasure for me. So what have I to fear? What can man do to me when God is my anchor?

Meanwhile I will cling to and treasure my husband and children, because today they still breathe, and nothing else matters. I don’t feel a compulsion to buy more junk to wear, or more junk for my house, continuously unsatisfied. God is my satisfaction, because through suffering I was able to learn what really matters in this life.

“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 things through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13