Worry, anxiety, restlessness, depression, distress, and fear come naturally to us. It seems to be just part of our daily lives. It seems like some times life is one storm after another.
Friends and family tell us not to worry. Psychologists try to help us find out the cause. But we look at the state of the world, we look at our unsaved loved ones, we look at our burdened spouses, we look at the doctor’s report, we look at the bills piling up, and it all seems to be crushing in around us.
How do we stop worrying? How do we just let it all go and chase rainbows and butterflies?
What is contentment?
Contentment is not necessarily being happy and carefree in every situation. It is not sticking your head in the sand and ignoring the world around you. Contentment is being very aware of all the struggles, trials, suffering, difficulties, unknown around you but having peace, quietness of spirit, hope, trust, confidence, a grateful heart knowing you are in God’s sovereign, gracious, loving, and capable hands. No matter what may come, your home is not of this world and your hope is in Christ.
“Contentment is not carelessness or prodigality. It is not obtuseness of sensibility. It is a disposition of mind in which we rest satisfied with the will of God respecting our temporal affairs—without hard thoughts or hard speeches concerning His allotments and without any sinful desire for a change. It submissively receives what is given. It thankfully enjoys present mercies. It leaves the future in the hand of unerring wisdom. Nor is there anything in true contentment to make men satisfied with the world as a portion or as a permanent abode. The most contented person may long for the day when Christ shall call him home.” ~ William Plummer (What is Contentment?)
Contentment is resting, being at peace with the will of God. Whether it is in His will for us to go through struggles or to have days of ease, we have peace, rest, and hope in Him.
“Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition…it is the inward submission of the heart.” ~ Jeremiah Burroughs (The Quiet of the Heart)
There is more to being content than just not complaining about the things of life. This is an inward, not just an outward, reaction to all that God allows to come into our lives.
“Not only must the tongue hold its peace: the soul must be silent.” ~ Jeremiah Burroughs (The Quiet of the Heart)
Psalms 131 says, “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;” (Psalm 131:2) and in Isaiah we see “And the work of righteousness will be peace, And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever” (Isaiah 32:17). This peace and quietness is not only evident in outward expression but it has penetrated all the way to the soul.
“When affliction comes, whatever it is, you do not murmur. Though you feel it, though you make your cry to God, though you desire to be delivered and seek it by all good means, yet you do not murmur or repine, you do not fret or vex yourself. There is not a tumultuousness of spirit in you, not an instability. There are not distracting fears in your hearts, no sinking discouragements, no unworthy shifts, no risings in rebellion against God in any way. This is quietness of spirit under an affliction.” ~ Jeremiah Burroughs (The Quiet of the Heart)
JC Ryle called contentment “one of the rarest graces.” This is so true. In this country, we spend thousands of dollars on therapy and medications, we spend hours reading uplifting and inspirational quotes, we turn to unhealthy ways of filling the aches we have in our soul. (As a side not, I am in no way discouraging the use of therapy, medications, or inspirational quotes. They all have their place and reasons. But discontentment is different than a psychological disorder or a desire to be inspired or encouraged.)
Where do we find contentment?
One of the most popular trends on Facebook that I have noticed popping up in my feed more frequently, is people asking for inspiration in the form of commenting to their post with an inspirational quote, a certain number photo on your phone, memes, funny pictures of kids or pets, etc. None of these are wrong. They are a fun way to get people to smile and encourage them. But there seems to be a growing need and desire for this. This must at least hint to us that there is discontentment in all of our lives.
People are always seeking contentment. We may momentarily feel as though we have filled that void when we buy some new product, connect with a new friend, finally get the body we have always desired, get the job we always dreamed of, or go on an amazing vacation. But a few hours/days/weeks/months later, the discontent starts to take over again. We eventually realize we did nothing but put a band-aid over gangrene.
“The main point I want to impress on men’s minds is this: we ought to make the texts and promises of the Bible our refuge in time of trouble and the fountain of our soul’s comfort.” ~ JC Ryle (Contentment: A Rare Grace)
Only God can offer true contentment and we find His healing tonic in His holy Word.
This is one of the main reasons for our practice of Scripture writing. It helps us to get into the habit of daily turning to the food our Father has prepared for us, it helps us in storing up His wisdom in our hearts for the dark days that may be ahead, it comforts us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death today, and it realigns our hearts and minds to keep our eyes heavenward, gazing at our Savior rather than the darkness and waves around us.
This next quote is quite long but it really points to the whole reason we are doing the Scripture Writing Plans.
“You and I have trouble and sorrow before us. It needs no prophetic eye to see that. Sicknesses, deaths, partings, separations, disappointments are sure to come. What is to sustain us in the days of darkness, which are many? Nothing [is] so able to do it as texts out of the Bible.
“You and I, in all probability, may lie for months on a bed of sickness. Heavy days and weary nights, an aching body, and an enfeebled mind may make life a burden. And what will support us? Nothing is likely to cheer and sustain us so much as verses out of the Bible.
“You and I have death to look forward to. There will be friends to be left, home to be given up, the grave to be visited, an unknown world to be entered, and the Last Judgment after all. What will sustain and comfort us when our last moments draw nigh? Nothing, I firmly believe, is so able to help our heart in that solemn hour as texts out of the Bible.
“I want men to fill their minds with passages of Scripture while they are well and strong that they may have sure help in the day of need. I want them to be diligent in studying their Bibles and becoming familiar with their contents in order that the grand old Book may stand by them and talk with them when all earthly friends fail…I say to every reader: arm yourself with a thorough knowledge of God’s Word. Read it, and be able to say, ‘I have hope because it is thus and thus written. I am not afraid because it is thus and thus written.’ Happy is that soul who can say with Job, ‘I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food’ (Job 23:12).” ~ JC Ryle (Contentment: A Rare Grace)
Throughout April, we will be studying Finding Contentment in Christ. Contentment is a rare grace but one sought after by everyone. Discontent 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: Contentment
You can download digital versions at Chapel Library (free) or the kindle version at Amazon (99¢).