It was a new thought that dropped in to my consciousness this morning, from this blog post. It’s the radical realisation that contentment isn’t found in being thankful for our circumstances but in someone who reaches beyond our circumstances. I’m not sure how often I have been guilty of trying to work up contentment in my circumstances but I know I often think the cure for discontentment is looking around for the good in my life. That’s not a bad thing to do, being thankful is awesome and helps pessimists like me see that life is full of wonderous moments and joys even in the smallest detail.
Using this method to find contentment is a little bit dangerous, and it’s hit me like a hammer this morning. Contentment can only come from beyond our circumstances, as Paul says in the rather annoying bit at the end of Philippians when he talks about learning the secret of being content whether he has nothing or everything (really if you’ve got the secret it might be helpful to pass it on…). The clue might be in the verse that follows- “I can do all things through him who gives me strength”. Not “I’ve written out my 5 things to be thankful for from today” (however helpful an exercise that might be) but “I know someone who goes beyond these circumstances and who is helping me.”
The thing dominating my head right now is the long wait for my body to turn the magic switch and for labour to begin. My horizons have narrowed down to the extreme. It’s been hard to write in this last week because I am afraid of boring you all with the dullness of my thoughts: “when will he come?, what am I doing in the waiting? still waiting, argghghghghgh etc.”
Contentment is hard to come by for me and the husbandface right now.
I’m glad it isn’t found in a strange denial of how weird and hard this time is. It’s not found in me working myself up into a thankful frenzy and then feeling crap because it’s still hard and being thankful didn’t really work. (of course I am deeply deeply grateful that there is a boy to await at all, we’re not taking the wonder of that for granted). Contentment won’t be found in a safe straightforward delivery, or even in the end result of our baby in our arms. Contentment won’t be found if all goes wrong and we look at our lives and start working up some thankfulness that we still have each other etc.
Contentment is found by gazing deep into the world beyond our circumstances right now, to the character of the one who is in charge, to the light and life that he offers, to his hand on the world, to his unfailing love, to his cross which changed everything, to his birth, death and resurrection. Contentment is found in Jesus. The one who doesn’t change, the one who is coming back, the one who made us, formed us, knows us and calls us on in this life. It’s found in the one who gives us strength whether we have plenty or lack everything.
He enables me to get up this morning and seek a mind of peace, not because of external blessings, as lovely as they are, but because he is here. Not because he will make everything go the way I want it to (grr) but because he is here. Not because I’ve managed to convince myself that all the many old wives tales as to how to bring on labour will work but because he is here.
And so I rest in him again and let these old words wash over my weary soul and trust that whatever happens in these next two weeks he will be holding our hands and helping us through these storms.
How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrow, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
‘Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary rest.
Dear Name! the Rock on which we build;
Our shield and hiding-place;
Our never-failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace.
Jesus, our Savior, Shepherd, Friend,
Our Prophet, Priest, and King;
Our Lord, our Life, our Way, our End,
Accept the praise we bring.
Weak is the effort of our heart,
And cold our warmest thought;
But when we see Thee as Thou art,
We’ll praise Thee as we ought.