Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

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

Innocence vs Experience

Monday, November 29th, 2010

innocence-vs-experienceWhen I was at the university in England, one of the literature classes I took included William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. I sensed the mood, the feeling of each book of poetry, and I realized that I lived in innocence. I had grown up in a Christian home and been sheltered. When I talked to people in the experienced section of life, I realized that I didn’t know how to relate to them, that I was naive. It’s really strange when you’re 21 years old, and you realize that you’re naive. I was naive because I purposely kept myself from evil.

I wondered if there was any way to cross over from innocence to experience without sinning.

Experienced people had somehow done things or seen things that caused them to know more about life. They had experienced pain. It also seemed like they were deeper people. They understood life better, and they were more real in the way they related to people.

I wanted to have wisdom. I realized that I didn’t really have it.

Proverbs says the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and Ecclesiastes says that life boils down to this: fear God and keep His commandments. The wisest man who ever lived wrote both those books, so he knew what he was talking about. I also knew that God was always right, so I always tried to obey Him. Because of this choice, I was saved from a lot of pain and a messed-up life. This is why fearing God is the beginning of wisdom; God is the originator of wisdom.

So you can live your life according to wisdom without having wisdom. The one is based on blind obedience, whereas the other emanates from within, put there by God. (Blind obedience, by the way, is pleasing to God and shows Him that we trust Him completely, so it’s not a bad thing. There is something beyond it, though, which includes it.) People who don’t know God can have a worldly wisdom that is based on experience, and it is a practical wisdom that is actually true. It’s based on cause and effect in their lives. It’s like science. A scientist who doesn’t know God can discover new medicines or how the brain works. The knowledge is there for anyone who bothers to look.

As far as my own journey from innocence to experience is concerned, I certainly didn’t want to mess up my life for the sake of wisdom. This would not be true wisdom. Plenty of shallow people have messed up their lives and have no wisdom at all, only shattered lives leading nowhere. They don’t even have practical wisdom.

What I wanted was true wisdom. I asked God for it.

Little did I know a year later, I would be thrust into the world of experience. Apparently, pain is the only way to get there. And, yes, I crossed over without sinning. My life has never been the same. Some day I will write a book about it.

Meanwhile, I’ve realized that with much knowledge comes much pain. Does wisdom have to include the knowledge of evil? Maybe. Just like the fruit from the garden of Eden that should never have been eaten. Why know about evil? Somehow depth of character can’t be gotten without it. Suffering does something to a person. Either it makes you want to shrivel up and die, or else you cry out to God for healing and somehow get though it to the other side. Suddenly you can relate to other people and understand them.

Yes… I finally crossed over.