As many of you know I absolutely love the Advent season in the church calendar, our ability to interact with liturgy across the planet and in unison is amazing to me! What a great way to tear down the walls of religion and speak to the beauty of Christ instead. Some friends of mine across the pond have been writing on Advent and I wanted to share one of their posts called Finding Contentment, with you. Enjoy these words from The Faith Narrative! – Michael
It was about 8:30am on the 25th October when I was driving down the motorway towards Weston-super-Mare. It was one of those typical autumnal mornings, 5 degrees celsius, clear skies, the sun shining low in the sky; beautifully bright and crisp as you might say. As the car took me round the corner, the view from the motorway opened up and the outlook was just incredible. The whole of the Gordano valley was filled with a heavy mist, with trees and church spires peaking through here and there, the sun reflecting off the top of the clouds, almost an idyllic setting.
I thought to myself, how can life get any better than this? In those few moments, my mind was clear of stress and worry, the things that overwhelm and distract me, and was replaced with a moment of peace, wonder and awe at the beauty of what I saw in front of me.
It occurred to me that the feeling of contentment and happiness that I felt in that moment is a place I want to be in at all times.
So I am actively pursuing that place of contentment at all times as I seek to worship God, hear His voice and be obedient to His call on my life.
I believe that to live in a permanent state of contentment, we need to learn to live a life of faith, hearing from God at all times and being obedient to his direction.
The apostle, Paul, had learned the secret of living. He writes autobiographically about this unshakeable contentment that he had found in his life in Philippians 4.
He had gone through an incredible journey of challenges and situations that he’d faced, but through everything he had experienced, he writes about 3 things that helped him to learn the secret of living. That helped him discover what Christian contentment is all about.
1. Christian Generosity
I know from seasons we have faced as a family, where our finances have been a real challenge, that God has faithfully provided our need through generous Christians.
In Philippians 4:14-16 Paul thanks the Philippians for their generosity in the gifts they gave to him. In Paul’s seasons of need he had enough to live on because of the generosity of the Philippians.
I think it’s important to understand that the Lord uses generous Christians to help Christians who are in need. It’s a form of fellowship and community, part of us being a family that ‘does life together’. When one member of our family is suffering, we take note and help them out.
The great thing about Christian generosity is that there are two sides to the coin. Firstly, in times of plenty, we can have the joy of sowing into the life of someone who is in need, and secondly, in times of need, we can receive a blessing from those who give to us.
2 Corinthians 8:13-15 sums the principle up perfectly:
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
Paul learned to be content in the provision of what he needed, knowing that God would provide for him through the generosity of others. He learned that God uses the resources of one, to meet the necessities of someone else.
2. Christian Discipline
Paul also learned that to produce contentment, we need to be disciplined in our attitude towards the circumstances we face.
We often complain when times are hard; however, we need to be disciplined to be content, acknowledging that we have enough, no matter what. If we understand that God provides what we need, we should be disciplined to be content with what we have.
Paul testifies that ‘enough’ and ‘contentment’ are relative terms; relative to what we feel we need for ourselves. He had gone through a process of detachment from the things of the world, its comforts and its discomforts, until he finally reached a place of maturity.
This contentment is the mark of a mature believer, something we should all strive to have, especially when we have a desire to grow in Christ.
Paul learned the lesson, bit by bit, test by test, circumstance by circumstance; he persevered until he truly grasped the secret.
3. Christian Trustfulness
Paul accepted all his circumstances as from God and glorified God in them all.
Paul was contented because God was trustworthy; he had learned to be content because he had learned to trust. Paul expressed this back in those 10 words:
“I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”
This is a demonstration of incredible faith, but even more than that, it’s a demonstration of incredible trust.
It helps to understand that faith and trust are different things. Faith is a noun, it’s something we have. Faith says, “I know Him and I believe!”. Where as trust in this context is a verb, it’s something we do. Trust is faith in action; it’s the manifestation of our faith in our thoughts and actions.
While faith says, “He can…”, trust says “He is… and I will think and act accordingly”.
So I now find myself on a journey of discovering Christian contentment. It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to take some time, but as I commit to this process, I know in confidence that if I’m in a season of need, that there are other Christians that are in a season of plenty. If I can be disciplined to be content in all seasons and can place my trust in God, then I will be able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
by Richard Evans
For more on Rich and Lois and their writings check out thefaithnarrative.co.uk, and always keep up to date with http://www.michaelfischer.co