Yesterday, I went to run in the early morning hours and was having a great workout when I tripped over an uneven place on the sidewalk and fell hard. It hurt. My knee, elbows, and palms were bloody. My jarred joints became swollen and sore.
It was just one more thing in a series of discouragements. I have really had to fight for my heart lately.
Last week we had a women’s devotional where the older women taught the younger. One of Alicia’s main points was that, as busy women trying to do everything, it’s essential that we learn how to be content. We can’t be good at everything, and we have to be able to find peace in the things we CAN do.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. Phil 4:12-13
Contentment is a muscle. It’s not easy, it takes strength to be content. Every message around us is telling us that we need to have more — more stuff, more accomplishments. Every message also tells us that we need to have less — less weaknesses, less imperfections.
And the irony is that the weaknesses and imperfections actually give us the strength to be content.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is strongest when you are weak.” II Cor 12:9
The same root word, dynamis, is used in both Phil. 4:13 and II Cor 12:9. Just as Paul needed strength to be content when he was hungry and in want, he also needed strength to be content when he was struggling physically and emotionally.
Paul says earlier in II Corinthians 1:8-9, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure. . . . But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
It is when we rely on God, that we can find the strength to be content. Our tough situations remind us that we don’t have the sufficiency in ourselves, but in God, we have an abundance! Paul goes on to describe the disciples in II Cor 6:10 as, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
But it’s more than just having perspective. Contentment is a gift. I believe it’s something we can only find supernaturally. We rely on God to put in our heart what we ourselves cannot.
That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil–this is the gift of God. Ecc 3:13
In closing, I want to share a song that has really helped me through the years. It’s several verses strung together and put to rhyme. It calms my heart in a way only the words of the Spirit can. I’ve followed it with a picture my cousin Carey Lynn took in New Mexico when we were there a few weeks ago. It is such a great illustration of a spacious place.
You brought me to a spacious place
Forgave my sin, that grievous weight.
We went through water, went through fire
You brought me where abundance lies
The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places.
Surely my allotment is fine and gracious
For you, Oh Lord, have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling,
That I may walk before you in the light of life,
Run in your path for you have set me free.