“You must know your own heart, seek God for your portion, take Christ for your Savior, and use God’s Word for your daily food…He who has God for his friend and heaven for his home can wait for his good things and be content with little here below.” ~ JC Ryle (Contentment: A Rare Grace)1
As JC Ryle said, “Contentment is one of the rarest graces.”1 We are constantly searching for contentment but there is only one place it can be found. True contentment is only found in Christ. Until we understand how truly sinful and undeserving of any grace we are, what Christ’s redeeming work on the cross really meant, and what the providence of God is, we will always be seeking what can only be found as revealed in the pages of Scripture.
The two vital parts of finding contentment is in understanding God’s providential role in all our circumstances and Christ’s ever-flowing fountain of spiritual provision.
God’s Providence in Contentment
“Good and evil do not come by chance or happen in a casual and fortuitous way. Both are disposed by God’s providence according to His will.” ~ Thomas Jacombe (Consideration: A Great Help to Contentment)1
Providence is God’s care, foresight, guidance, and management of all creation. Providence is part of God’s sovereignty. Sovereignty means that God has complete control over all of His creation.
God is omniscient (all-knowing). He knows everything from eternity past, everything in the present (even our secret thoughts), and everything in eternity future. He knows how we will react to certain situations, He knows the exact moment we were conceived, He knows the exact moment we will die. There is nothing He does not know. God cannot learn anything because He already knows it all.
“God is fit to govern you and all things. He knows what is best for you, how much you can bear, and when a smile or a stroke will do you most good. His grace is great and so are His truth, power, and wisdom. If He directs, all things will go right. He is never deceived or outwitted. He is gentle and kind….His will is holy, just, and good….His faithfulness is unto all generations.” ~ William Plummer (What is Contentment?)1
Because God knows everything, He knows what we need and when we need it. He knows when we need to be shown grace and mercy and He knows when a trial would be the best thing for us. Because God loves us, we know that He will do what is best for us, whether that be sending us comfort or suffering. Because we know that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), we know He has the ability to control every situation.
“Dear child of God, your afflictions, your trials, your crosses, your losses, your sorrows—all—all are in your heavenly Father’s hand. They cannot come until sent by Him. Bow that stricken heart, yield that tempest-tossed soul to His sovereign disposal, to His calm, righteous sway, in the submissive spirit and language of your suffering Savior, ‘Not my will, but thine, be done (Luk 22:42)! My times of sadness and of grief are in Thy hand.’” ~ Octavius Winslow (My Times In God’s Hand)1
It may seem difficult to understand when any trial, tribulation, or suffering would be beneficial to us but there is always a reason. We may not always understand or be able to determine the reason for us going through difficult days but we can trust that God does not let His children suffer needlessly.
“Beloved, God has placed us in a school in which He is teaching us to lay our blind reason at His feet, to cease from our own wisdom and guidance, and lean upon and confide in Him as children with a parent.” ~ Octavius Winslow (My Times In God’s Hand)1
At times, allowing us to go through a difficult time may be a form of discipline. Discipline has a bad reputation. True discipline is not the same thing as punishment. Discipline may include some punishment but only to teach a lesson and reinforce consequences of poor decisions. Punishment alone discourages and oppresses the student. Discipline is meant to make the student stronger. True discipline from God sanctifies His children.
My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord
Or loathe His reproof,
For whom the Lord loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
Other times, suffering or withholding of what we desire may be sent to us to teach us to rely more fully on God. Last week, I mentioned 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 where Paul is discussing the persecution he and Timothy experienced in Asia. He said in the end, this experience brought them to a place where they learned to trust not in themselves but more fully in God. This terrible experience that brought them so low actually caused them to find hope in God even more.
There is nothing that the Lord has taken more entirely and exclusively into His keeping than the redeemed, sanctified souls of His people. All their interests for eternity are exclusively in His hand.” ~ Octavius Winslow (My Times In God’s Hand)1
Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” And Philippians 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” The Lord has not only saved us from His wrath but has taken it upon Himself to do good unto us. We may wonder at times what could possibly be good for us in certain situations, but our perfect and wise Father knows what is best for us.
“When at any time your hearts begin to storm and fret at your condition, sit down and seriously consider Who it is that orders that condition.” ~ Thomas Jacombe (Consideration: A Great Help to Contentment)1
Whatever situation and circumstance God has placed us, we can trust that it is part of His perfect will. We can also rest in knowing He loves us and will never let us go through anything painful that is not for our greater good, for our sanctification.
“Well may there be our contentment in every state when there is God’s righteousness in every state. Providence may sometimes be dark and mysterious, yet it is always just and righteous. God may sometimes cross us, but He never wrongs us.” ~ Thomas Jacombe (Consideration: A Great Help to Contentment)1
God is righteous which means He can do no wrong. Even when we may feel as though God has been unfair to us, has wronged us, has allowed us to suffer more than we feel is right, we know that we are wrong in our assessment. God is right in all He does and even when it is painful, we know it is right.
“Learn to be content with your present lot, with God’s dealings with and His disposal of you. You are just where His providence has, in its [mysterious] but all-wise and righteous decision, placed you. It may be a painful, irksome, trying position, but it is right. Oh, yes! It is right! Only aim to glorify Him in it. Wherever you are placed, God has a work for you to do, a purpose through you to be accomplished, in which He blends your happiness with His glory. And when you have learned the lessons of His love, He will transfer you to another and a wider sphere…” ~ Octavius Winslow (My Times In God’s Hand)1
Contentment in Christ
“The cornerstone of contentment is a heart that trusts the Lord. Jeremiah 17:7–8″ ~ Melissa Kruger2
We are wretched sinners deserving nothing more than eternity in hell. But Christ offered His body and blood to be our perfect Passover Lamb. He took on all of our sin and gave us His perfect righteousness. We continue to battle our sin nature but we now have the desire please God. When God the Father looks upon His redeemed children, He no longer sees their filthy rags (Isaiah 64) but rather Christ’s righteousness covering us.
We have received so much more than we ever deserved. We have no reason to be discontent. When we accurately see the what Christ has done for His Bride, we realize how ridiculous it is to be discontent with any circumstance we find ourselves in.
Christ the Ever-Flowing Fountain
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)
Melissa Kruger wrote in an article for Ligonier regarding this passage: “The tree’s ability to flourish is independent of circumstances because it has an enduring source from which to drink. Whatever season may come, the tree is always bearing fruit.”2
Christ is our endless stream of water. We drink from His water through the reading of His Word. Whatever our life may look like, as long as we drinking from Christ’s endless stream, we will prosper. This is not the type of prospering as in having health, wealth, and perfect relationships. This is true prosperity. This is life, joy, peace, and contentment in Christ.
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. (John 15:5-11)
To prove we are disciples of Christ, we bear fruit. This fruit comes by abiding in Christ. We abide in Christ by reading God’s Word, prayer, and living in obedience to Him.
It is also important to remember that Jesus also said that His disciple would “deny himself and take up his cross” (Matthew 16:24-26). The life of a disciple is not one of ease and comfort. It is a life of self-denial and devotion.
“Jesus is our fount, providing the strength, refreshment, and encouragement we need to withstand any and every circumstance we may face, while still bearing the fruit of contentment.” ~ Melissa Kruger2
In speaking with the woman at the well in John 4, Jesus tells the woman, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). Later in the seventh chapter, He says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38).
“Christ is an ever-flowing fountain. He is continually supplying His people, and the fountain is not spent. They who live upon Christ may have fresh supplies from Him to all eternity. They may have an increase of blessedness that is new, and new still, and that never will end.” ~ Jonathan Edwards (Full Contentment in Christ)1
Christ is our spring of Living Water. He is our Provider. He is our only source of contentment.
“The mind never has any satiety, but Christ’s excellence is always fresh and new and tends as much to delight after it has been seen a thousand or ten thousand years, as when it was seen the first moment.” ~ Jonathan Edwards (Full Contentment in Christ)1
Christ’s provision will never run out. It is new every morning. It is completely sufficient, capable, and fulfilling for every need we have.
Trust in Jesus
Thus says the Lord,
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:5)
When we put our hope and trust in man, in what we have, in what we experience, we turn our eyes away from Christ. How foolish we are to turn from the Creator, the One with all power, the One who is sovereign over all creation and look to His fallen creation for help.
Christ not only has everything we need, He is completely capable of providing it to us when we need it. He is even Lord over putting us in the situation in which we need something from Him.
“What the world is unable to provide, Christ freely gives. May we be found in Him, overflowing with joy, resting content in all things.” ~ Melissa Kruger2
Christ suffered more than any of us ever could bear. He had a difficult life of rejection from family, betrayed by friends, despised by His people, mocked by those He came to save, tortured, and crucified. But Jesus endured what no one on earth ever has or ever will have to endure. He, the perfect and innocent God the Son, bore the full wrath of God for the sins of all believers of all time.
“When tempted to complain at your lot, meditate upon Him Who when here had not where to lay His head, Who was constantly misunderstood by friends and hated by innumerable enemies. Contemplation of the cross of Christ is a wonderful composer of an agitated mind and a querulous spirit.” ~ AW Pink (I Will Never Leave Thee)1
This Jesus, this Messiah, felt enough love for us that He went to the cross to pay for our sins and give us His righteousness. What love and care He has shown us! He cherishes His Bride. He is powerful enough to satisfy the wrath of God, how much more is it for Him to rule over our temporal circumstances? If He loved us enough to pay our ransom, surely He cares enough for us to supply our daily bread.
“In the infinite fullness of Jesus, in the inexhaustible supply of the covenant, in the exceeding great and precious promises of His Word, He has anticipated every spiritual exigency of the believer. How precious is your soul to Him Who bore all its sins, Who exhausted all its curse, Who travailed for it in ignominy and suffering, and Who ransomed it with His own most precious blood. Guarded, also, by His indwelling Spirit is His kingdom of righteousness, joy, and peace within you. Oh, endeavor to realize that, whatever be your mental exercises, spiritual conflicts, doubts and fears, your ‘times’ of soul despondency are in the Lord’s hand.” ~ Octavius Winslow (My Times In God’s Hand)1
God is sovereign over our every situation. He only allows to come into our lives those things that will grow us closer to Him. He loves us and only does good to us. Our suffering may not feel good but we can trust that God is working all our circumstance for good.
Christ is our ever-flowing fountain. His grace is sufficient and will never run out. We can trust that He has all we need and the ability to provide it to us at the exact moment we need it.
“Strive, then [by faith], to live a life of daily dependence upon God. Oh, it is a sweet and holy life! It saves from many a desponding feeling, from many a corroding care, from many an anxious thought, from many a sleepless night, from many a tearful eye, and from many an imprudent and sinful scheme…Oh, yes! beloved reader, thank God that your times, your interests, your salvation, are all out of your hands, and out of the hands of all creatures, supremely and safely in His. Forward in the path of duty, of labor, and of suffering. Aim to resemble Christ more closely in your disposition, your spirit, your whole life.” ~ Octavius Winslow (My Times In God’s Hand)1
The 23 Psalm is one of the clearest Biblical presentations on the providence, sufficiency, ability, and comfort of God. This passage should comfort us greatly and lead us to finding contentment in Christ alone.
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23)
Throughout April, we have been studying Finding Contentment in Christ. Contentment is a rare grace but one sought after by everyone. Discontentment is a sin that is so naturally pervasive and invasive that there is no one who isn’t riddled with it. Only Christ has the answer; only Christ has the cure.
If you would like to join us as we study the Scripture to find our contentment in Christ, you can download a free copy of the April Scripture Writing Plan by subscribing to the A Narrow-Minded Woman Newsletter using the form below. After you confirm your subscription, I will send you the link to the download library. There you may download this Scripture writing plan along with several other free downloads I offer. We would also love to have you join us in the Facebook group.
- Free Grace Broadcaster – Issue 213 – Contentment. 2014. Ebook. 1st ed. Chapel Library. http://www.chapellibrary.org/broadcaster/fgb-index/.
- Kruger, Melissa. 2017. “Four Qualifications For Finding Contentment”. Ligonier Ministries. http://www.ligonier.org/blog/four-qualifications-finding-contentment/.
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