Lately, it seems as if every time God exposes a weakness in me, He exposes that same tendency in one of my children, using their struggle to expose the depth of my waywardness and how it has shaped their bent toward the same sin. I cannot explain in words the vulnerability I am experiencing as I see just how helpless I am without the Lord. Without His wisdom. Without His strength and help. How can I train and steer my kids in His ways when I am still learning so much? When I still stumble and fall in the same areas? When I still need His intervention as much and more than they do? When they need wisdom I have yet to obtain or master?
After posting Monday’s blog on “The Greatest Vanity of All: Discontentment” (http://shaunawallace.blogspot.com/2012/06/greatest-vanity-of-vanities.html), I was ambushed by several of my kids with every reason why the grass is greener on the other side of a decision we’ve made for them. When my response failed their expectation, depression set in. Not just for the disappointed one, but for me. As I took it all to the Lord and cried out to Him, begging Him for wisdom and to guard this child’s heart against resentment and any ensuing hardness, He showed me the root of the issue: discontentment. Then He showed me the one who’s modeling it: me.
I am convinced a substantial source of discontentment is comparison. We look around and focus on what others have and we don’t. What others get to do and we don’t. What others don’t have to do and we do. What others don’t have to deal with and we do. We decide others have it better and hang our happiness on becoming like them. We tell ourselves it will make us look better, feel better, belong better. And our disappointment stealthily drags us to state of despair.
Is contentment even possible when we’re not getting what we want? When things seem impossible? When we’re convinced something beyond us at the moment is the key to our happiness?
Yes! Paul explains in Philippians 4:11-13: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Contentment is learned. It is not a natural state, but it can become the one that feels most natural to us, through Christ who strengthens us.
In my experience, it is not accidentally discovered or acquired through osmosis. It is a conscious choice to renew my faith. Faith that our heavenly Father loves us and knows what’s best for us. Faith that He is in control and does not allow what He does not intend to use for our good. Faith that He will direct our paths, directly or through those in authority over us, as we seek His will above all else. Faith that He is always there, as Hebrews 13:5 tells us: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’"
We can be content with exactly where we are, what we have, and what He has us doing because He will never leave or forsake us. That is our source of contentment. It is the only thing that matters. The only thing of eternal importance.
Gratitude naturally flows. Or we might have to be intentional about that as well. Either way, thankfulness douses discontentment. We can’t be grateful and unhappy at the same time. We can’t be grateful and full of fear. We can’t be grateful and angry. We can’t be grateful and grumpy. We can’t be grateful and resentful. We can’t be grateful and envious.
It’s up to us.
There are brown patches, bald spots, chinch bugs, pits, and burrs in the grass on both sides of every fence. Only God knows the side on which you belong. Trust Him. Praise Him. Let Him be God as you become more wholly His today. Find the green grass where you are today, and thank Him for it.