The Beauty of Contentment
Drifting back in my memory it’s autumn and I’m remembering a most precious time in 1977. I was a young mother, although I had just had my fourth child. I recall being frightened because we were facing an upcoming winter, my husband and me, with no steady income. In our early days Bobby was “shellfish harvester” (otherwise known as a clam digger). Living a life with The Great South Bay on Long Island as your source of unknown income was unsettling to me. We never knew ahead time what a day would hold.
I felt overwhelmed easily as I thought of how we would pay our bills, where the money for the oil in our persnickety oil tank would come from, and how we’d keep food on our table for ourselves and our four children. Let me tell you my story…
I gave birth to Jaime on May 31, 1977. Needless to say, having a Quiet Time with three busy kids and a newborn wasn’t an easy undertaking, but I was bound and determined to do just that! Beginning my new routine in September, I began setting my alarm each day for 5:15 a.m.
I remember this life-changing day as if it happened yesterday. I was sitting in the dim light…the sun just beginning to peek up over the horizon ever so slightly. I had my Bible, a highlighter, my coffee, and an expectant heart. Starting with my worries first, I began to pour out my fear of the winter days ahead to the Lord in what I remember to be a desperate prayer.
Prompted by the Holy Spirit, I’m sure, I turned to I Timothy 6. As I began to read, the Lord highlighted verses 6-8 as if they were written just to me, in gold letters, shining off the page!
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out. If we have food and clothing we will be content with these.”
The gentle sense of quiet in the room seemed to envelope me. I knew the Lord was speaking directly to my heart. Assurance that HE would provide what HE knew we needed was made so clear. I continued reading…and as those verses began to sink in, I purposed in my heart to trust Jesus for everything we needed in the days and months ahead.
The stories of His faithfulness to us should be written in a book! Though we’ve had many a storm in our days together, Jesus never left our side once. In fact, we found it amazing how often we’d have nothing, but people would always be around our dinner table sharing a meal with us. I look back with such fondness on that season and wouldn’t trade one moment of those days for anything. It was in those young years…young as Christians and young of age…where we saw and experienced, first-hand, the provision of the Lord. He had called our names, saved us, and was, indeed, keeping us close to His heart.
So now, many decades and several children and grandchildren later…we can still attest to the fact that God provides all we need. As much as I’m loving reflecting on what the Lord did in my heart so many decades ago, now we have to hold a minute; we need make a turn here…because I think it’s important that I let you all know my struggles and what the Lord is doing through the writing of this post.
I’ve been stopped short in my writing…unable to proceed. It’s been days since I’ve been able to sit down and concentrate on getting this post finished.
I kept praying, asking the Lord how to move forward. I had a sense that, yes, I am content, and have been content, regardless of our financial state over the years. However, I still can find myself with such a sense of restlessness where contentment is often a fleeting memory, usually depending on the state of those I love. Might that be your story as well?
Conflict came as I tried to proceed. I can usually tell when it’s the enemy of my soul trying to defeat me. Sometimes Jesus is the One who’s causing the hold-up because there’s something He needs to say to me. In this case, it’s seemed to be both.
My thoughts: “It’s easy for you to say you’re content. Look at how much you have. Why wouldn’t you be content?” That thought came with the feeling of being an imposter. It persisted, “And you don’t even really take care of all you have very well. You’re not a contented woman. That’s a lie.”
I recognized the source of that persistent, nagging, condemning voice…definitely NOT GOD’S VOICE!
While I have continued to walk in freedom from the “want and worry" of stuff, seeing God as our Abundant Provider, I still can wrestle with a lack of contentment when it comes to the state of my husband and children. At time I worry and fret about their lives, their choices, their health, or whatever it is that’s facing me concerning them. Let’s start by defining contentment:
Contentment is different from happiness. Contentment is a deep sense of satisfaction regardless of life’s situations. It’s “a knowing” that God has this…I think what it really boils down to is this: contentment comes as we surrender and release everything to God; the fruit of that surrender is a deep trust in Him for all things, including our family.
I am one who leans toward sometimes wanting to do the “thinking” for my kids instead of just letting them go, allowing the Lord, Himself, to work in their hearts. This can get messy when it comes to me being content. So in writing this post, of course I should have known this amazing God of ours was going to put His finger on my issues, unclogging areas I have stuffed down deep inside my heart. Sometimes I’m just not a fan of wanting to deal with the pain that comes before I release these precious ones to the Lord. Why would I ever pick this burden up again?
But oh, do I love it when I begin to write on a topic near and dear to my heart like contentment. I find the Lord reaches down deeper within me, bringing me to a place of seeing what I haven’t wanted to face in myself. As He gets my attention and I open MY heart more fully, He fixes it for me…amazing really…can you agree? This work of sanctification is beyond comprehension! His mercies truly are new every morning. The result: I have contentment back and an assurance that Jesus will handle my family; I don’t need to!
So here I am now…once again… coming to a place of letting Bobby and each child go…of opening my heart, given to Him, for the Holy Spirit to do a yet deeper work of release in me.
I love this ongoing work…I love His grace that enables me to do what I could NEVER EVER do on my own…I love His precious Word in Philippians 1:6 that promises me that He will continue the work He has begun in me until the day of Jesus Christ.
What a beautiful time of year to release my own heart and these precious ones and all their struggles to a God who loves them so much more than I ever could…a God who has a plan…who sent Jesus as the fulfillment of that plan…to make a way where there was no other way…so we can have relationship with Him, in and through His own dear Son!
Maybe you understand my heart. Maybe you have either worried about financial provision or your health or perhaps you’ve had sleepless nights over the state of your husband or your children. I invite you to come with me, together on this journey, that this side of Heaven we would live in the precious state of contentment all because we have a God we can trust. We have a God who is acquainted with our weaknesses and loves us in spite of them!
In this wonderful season that’s upon us, I don’t think there's a better gift we could give to Jesus or to each of those we love, than to trust in Him, being a woman who is at rest, with a quiet, contented heart, knowing our God has this…and ALL that pertains to us. Remember when you're feeling overwhelmed that He’s keeping us, and those we love so much, close to His heart.
So will you join me? I’m praying you will. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below! I’m collecting “contentment stories”…will you share yours with me? You can reach me at email@example.com.
On this journey together,