To say that the weekly 6:00 a.m. conversation and prayer time with my friend, Suzanne, is fuel for this blog would be an understatement.
That conversation holds me to considering my past week and what lies ahead. It keeps me holding my life up, like a prism, to the light of Christ and analyzing it. God uses it to help me see what He’s doing in my life and what He’s doing in my life impacts what I share here.
Last week we discussed having joy and faith in the midst of uncertainty and fear.
I want to hope that hard decisions I’ve made about my children’s education and extra activities are right and good. I want to trust that God will provide in the situation. I’m fearful at times, though, that I’ve made a mistake and I want to know the outcome NOW.
I want to pray for and hope that God will bless some ministry efforts, but I also fear that it is not part of God’s plan and He may allow those efforts to fail. I want to know NOW how it will turn out.
I want to put myself out there in writing and business but, I shudder at the thought of what that will mean in regards to vulnerability. What if I can’t do it, won’t do it, or what if I’m rejected? I need to know NOW that it will be OK. That I’LL be OK.
I want to hope for the future, but I don’t want to be disappointed. I want to dream about the future and be excited about it, but I don’t want to too much because what if I’m wrong?
I want to plan for my day but be flexible enough to still love well when things get in the way. To not become angry, frustrated, or irritated when I don’t accomplish all that I had in mind. Am I a productive enough person if I allow and say yes to love over plans? What if I never get what needs to be done, done? As a task-oriented person, can I handle that? Will I be OK if I choose people over plans?
Suzanne and I considered the question: “What was Paul’s secret to contentment?”
Because what the struggle seemed to come down to for us seems to be contentment. What is contentment? It’s being happy enough with what one has or is; not desiring something more or different; satisfied.
Are we destined to always be stuck in this path between where we are and where we want to be? Are we to always be grappling and wrestling on that path between hoping and fearing?
And are we to even hope for more or different?
What if that wrestling is OK?
Is contentment really a secret we must figure out?
My first thoughts as Suzanne and I wondered about Paul’s contentment were that trials teach us contentment. Paul must have learned contentment through trials. That seemed to fit with my own experience too. It seemed that as I experienced life and its ups and downs, I’d grown in contentment. But is it deeper than that? I mean, is that really what we as Christians should expect in regards to growing in godly contentment? That as we experience hardships, we’ll get more able to accept life as it is?
I got to thinking, there was more to it than that. That there must be more of a spiritual component to this than just bowing our heads and accepting life.
And can’t I dream and hope for more?
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 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 4:10-13
What do you think? Is it more than just learning to accept life? Is there anything wrong with hoping and dreaming about our future? What do you think is Paul’s “secret” to contentment?
Will you explore it with me over the next weeks?
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