Learning Contentment

I was nineteen when my daddy died. But I remember that he used to say, “Either we’re walking through a trial, we just got out of a trial, or a trial is on the horizon.” I think he was right. (Hi. Welcome to my uplifting blog.)

We all have situations that we wish were different. But even in the midst of this crazy, earthly reality, there’s an amazing thing that can happen. It’s called contentment. Contentment accepts the now — even in all the mess — while running forward with future hope.

Running. By faith.

 


flickr photo credit: sean venn


 

My mama recently began her journey through chemo. (I know. It’s *blech*.) But I’ve seen contentment blossom in her. A contentment with the now that cannot be explained apart from her God. In fact I called her yesterday to ask and she said, “He already knew this would happen. And He’s promised to carry me. I choose to rest there.”

Paul says in Philippians that he’s learned the secret to contentment, regardless of his circumstance.

 

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:11-13

 

And he meant all things.

He meant every good thing as well as every excruciating thing like being beaten to near death eight times or shipwrecked three times or hungry or sleepless. (just to name a few; 2 Corinthians 11:24-27) In alllllll these things he learned how to move through them with contentment.

To be content means “to be mentally or emotionally satisfied with the now”. It means that even when Paul’s enemies beat him, God proved to be sufficient. Paul didn’t *need* more. He found complete satisfaction in the strength of His Lord. But he did so with the future hope of glory at the forefront of his mind. He kept running forward, invigorated with hope.

There’s a contentment to be experienced in Christ and it’s apart from life’s happenings. It’s apart from how much stuff we have and apart from relationships. It’s apart from disease and apart from dreams fulfilled. But it isn’t free.

It’s learned through the trudging along in life’s valleys. It’s learned when life strips everything away and God proves to be enough. Or as a friend describes in the depths of her own valley, “Contentment doesn’t equal happiness. Contentment means I choose to believe God despite the raw hurt in my heart.”

The world will watch, confounded at the peace we can have through the strength of our Savior. But we will rejoice, contented with the now yet hopeful for the future.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How have you experienced contentment through the mire of trial?
How would you encourage those who yearn for contentment?

 

  • Shana

    Although I’m not in the midst of a major trial like some are…I find contentment in the day-to-day life with small children VERY difficult. You have given me things to ponder. I also really like the ESV translation of Phil 4. I’m working through my lack-of-contentment issues….and am bookmarking this post.

    • http://www.larawilliams.org Lara Gibson Williams

      We can’t compare our trials to those of others. We all have burdens and they all feel heavy. Your trial is no less than another. It’s the place He has *you* and it’s there that He desires we learn that promised contentment. Mommy hood is hard, friend. Praying you sense the sufficiency of His grace. Xoxo

  • Rebecca Sarine

    Thank you for this post. I am learning and choosing to believe God. Faith that he is strong where I am not. Faith that comes from knowing and relying on him each day, each moment.

    • http://www.larawilliams.org Lara Gibson Williams

      “Each moment.” So true. A moment by moment choosing. Praying for you, sweet friend.

  • salliehowell

    THank you for this. I lost my Dad at 20. Recently a friend lost her husband unexpectedly and it brought so many memories of me losing my Dad (her two daughters are my youngest children’s ages). I will share this with her. I am a SAHM so I need to find that contentment in my everyday (sometimes mundane) schedule. I was blessed by your word.

    • http://www.larawilliams.org Lara Gibson Williams

      Sallie, some seasons are excruciating. I’m so sorry to hear of your friend’s loss. So sorry. Contentment is often learned through that moment by moment choice to trust in spite of very real and raw emotions. He so graciously shows up to heal and mend. Peace to you.

  • http://jofenton.wordpress.com/ Johanna Fenton

    Lara, my mom is subscribed to your blog by email. She told me over the phone today that your blog post really touched her. I’m proud of you for sharing the gospel as it is. No more, no less. Be courageous, Lara. Be courageous. (In the words of Joshua.)

    • http://www.larawilliams.org Lara Gibson Williams

      Thank you, Johanna. God is so gracious to speak through us as humans, isn’t He. That we could be His hands and feet. Blessings to you, friend.

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  • annie

    i am in the middle of a few trails at the same time. thank you for things to think about. To be content means “to be mentally or emotionally satisfied with the now.
    for me that is a challenge. a challenge i need to face head on.

    • http://www.larawilliams.org Lara Gibson Williams

      Annie, I pray you don’t hear me discount the trials. Feelings are very real. And some seasons are horribly difficult. But His promises remain. Praying you experience His great grace as you lay those trials (moment by moment) at HIs feet.

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