The Secret of Contentment is Suffering


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

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12 Responses to “The Secret of Contentment is Suffering”

  1. It is through suffering that one realizes what is truly important. I love God’s grace and patience with us that He reveals our sin to us slowly. Just when I think I’m doing pretty good I’m thrown that eye opening curve ball. I think being on the mission field and seeing how people can live with so little changes our perspective. I live in a much nicer house than I would have ever dreamed, but I have never fixed it up or bought things to put on the wall. It is expensive and my husband doesn’t think it’s necessary. 🙂

    • Susan says:

      People would have a better perspective if they could see how people live in third world countries. However, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with hanging pictures on the wall. LOL

  2. Teresa says:


    You are exactly on. We (husband and I ) have been studying over the last two years how we are going to be uncomfortable. We have to be uncomfortable at times, for the dross to be swiped off. Many years we questioned why God would let certain things happen to us. The mentality of this country and now most of the American church is that if you suffer something is wrong with your faith. Peter, Paul and Christ all talked about how we are going to suffer for our faith. It is so encouraging to see someone else speaking about such things. I feel the exact same way. I am happy with what the Lord has blessed me with. I now feel like we are not doing enough to bless others. Always looking for the next opportunity. We are filthy rich here in America. If we have a dresser full of clothes, fridge with food, and money in our bank or pocket we are richer than 98%- 99% of the WORLD. Thank you for sharing this. Have a great Thanksgiving. We all have so much to be thankful for and yet don’t deserve.

    • Susan says:

      I don’t think dross can be “swiped off” without suffering. Greater holiness results in a closer walk with God, which yields fruit in all areas of life. Thank you for your encouragement.

  3. PrairieMom says:

    Refiner’s fire is both the best and the worst, isn’t it? I LOVE IT when the Lord discipline’s us. When he allows suffering in our life, THAT is when I feel most loved. Sometimes we call it, “Happy DIScontent” which really means, you are content and will be happy no matter what. Because we believe in being thankful in all things, we are at peace with everything!

    • Susan Evans says:

      Suffering is hard for me, and I don’t enjoy it at all. What I love, like you said, is the end result of the Refiner’s fire: sanctification. Being thankful in the middle of pain is impossible unless we know that God is doing something greater.

  4. Debbie says:

    Susan we so often want peace, comfort, ease and what we perceive as beauty at any cost. We need to realize the benefits of suffering, how God uses them to grow our dependence and Him and make us more and more reflect Christ. Instead of letting God remove the dross when the heat is turned up we too often demand a fire extinguisher.

    I gave a talk to ladies in my church last Saturday on the Blessings inthe Midst of Trials. From hinsight we have clearer vision to see those blessings and they should encourage us to more willingly embrace the trials to come knowing our God is sovereign and has them for our good and His glory.

    • Susan Evans says:

      Yes! Retrospect shows us the beauty in the middle of the suffering, although it’s hard to see beauty while experiencing the suffering itself. I have finally come to a point where I KNOW there is good in it somewhere, so I eagerly look for it, even while it is occurring.

  5. Melissa says:

    I have been tremendously fortunate to have never had to endure significant suffering myself. However, my jobs and career path has lead me to take care of, teach, and counsel children and adults who have lived through horrific trauma. Their situations have helped me to recognize my fortune and place my heart and love in God and not stuff.

  6. Sarah Hardee says:

    I always battle with contentment. As a SAHM sometimes it’s easy to look at other people’s lives that have two incomes and base their happiness on their higher income. I know this isn’t true and I know that for this season, God has called me to be at home. But it’s sometimes hard to accept your season. Thanks for the encouragement.

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