Tuesday, 12 July 2016
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
Is it just me that can see the deep wounds of discontentment everywhere? Britain is renowned for moaning, if it's not the weather it'll be the job, the mortgage, the EU, the government, the NHS, the early mornings. Don't worry I'm not at the beginning of some self-righteous rant, I myself am neck deep in this insidious condition that is discontentment. And I want out.
I can see the wound in most others around me, but sometimes it'll have a different shape. For some it's the little things, that extra £100 bill that snuck out of nowhere and will taint the next week with bitter comments. For others it's the bigger things, dark shadows of fears about the future will lay in wake paralysing people from enjoying the present. Or others that are consumed with pains in the past that they wall themselves up with cynicism to avoid any more.
I always used to think the answer to this problem was the gift of comparison. Finding something worldly that you have that others don't and scaring yourself into an attitude of gratefulness. So if you're struggling with loneliness at least you've got running water, feeling body conscious? At least your legs are working. The last thing I'm saying is we shouldn't be grateful for these things, OF COURSE WE SHOULD! They're such wonderful gifts, but to me that's sort of technique is putting a plaster on a gapping wound that's still bleeding profusely. You've got to get to the heart of the matter, get the stitches out and sort out the problem itself.
Paul claims that he has the answer and it's not actually anything on this earth! That's why it can't work to compare how good our lives are in comparison to others! What if we endured a terrible earthquake and we were in that position that we used to compare ourselves to just to keep afloat? How would we cope then? But Paul says I've got it... I found the secret to contentment no matter what I'm facing on this earth be it lots or nothing - because the thing we are content in does not lie in any of them - but HIM!! I can do all things though HIM, through Christ, who strengthens me!
I'm reminded at this point of what C.S. Lewis says “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak... like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased". We try and plug the hole that is our discontentment with things in this world! Maybe our very condition of discontentment is an indicator that we are not meant to be satisfied by this world - we crave something more!
Christ is the answer - he is the one who brings contentment who saves us from the illusions, pains and sufferings of this earth and brings us to true joy, true peace and true hope in the story of redemption. Coming back home, coming back to the Father of lights, reuniting us with the maker of our souls and the one with the plan, the only way for us to truly LIVE. He did it through the cross, enduring the consequences of everything we've ever done wrong the very darkness that dwells in every human EVER! He took that to the cross and fought, and won! He rose back to life giving us the victory, and us this HOPE! Ephesians 1:3 says 'Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ'. This is exactly where our contentment should lie - having EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING! That is being able to intimately know Christ and the Father through his presence the Holy Spirit, enjoying him and their love forever!
But wait a second, if this is true, why am I even writing this article? Why have I, a Christian been struggling with discontentment? Indeed why does any one who claims to have been saved by Christ wrestle with this wound? In my mind it boils down to where your hope is... or as Jesus said 'where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.' (Matthew 6:21). Too many Christians keep one foot in the world, seeking contentment in what is outside of Christ. But this is not a lost cause - we are not forever caught up in a love-affair with the world 'For freedom Christ has set us free' (Galatians 5:1), the shackles of the world have been broken, we are simply to take them off and lift our hands in praise to the true source of contentment. Beholding Christ, marvelling at all his beauty and saturating ourselves with his love is the only key to true and lasting contentment!