Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Pursuit of Contentment, Part Two

By Caitlin Williams
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
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We meditated on this wonderful truth in last week's post. We explored how fear and doubt keep us from living in the freedom Christ purchased for us on the cross. Were you able to peg some areas of your own life where fear and doubt have taken root, leading to discontentment? If so, praise the Lord for His Spirit willing and working in you by His grace! 

Today, I want to look at two more hindrances to us knowing the contentment of Christ Jesus: 

TWO: Pride—As people, we have this misguided tendency to equate things that happen or don’t happen to us, things we get or don’t get, to a sense of deserving. When we find ourselves jealous of what someone else has or gets to do, 99% of the time it’s because we feel like we deserve it…either just as much as they do or more so. 

Maybe we think we’ve earned it or deserved it because of some injustice we’ve endured in the past. The opposite is true with things that we don’t want or when bad things happen. We think, “I didn’t do anything to deserve this,” or, “Why am I being punished? I didn’t do anything wrong!” Friends, the truth is that in the absence of Jesus, we don’t deserve anything but pain and suffering. It’s not about us. It’s about the plans and purposes of God, and He is merciful enough to include us in them—good or bad.

He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34).
That one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you (James 4:10).

He’s making it simple here. If we want to be rescued from whatever pit we find ourselves in, we must humble ourselves. We must forsake our own desires and purposes, and submit to His.

The Lord values those who fear Him, those who put their hope in His faithful love 
(Psalm 147:11).

He values those who fear Him—those so in awe of His power and majesty that they understand that there is no happiness and no security outside of Him.

The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them (Psalm 25:14).

Sometimes when we feel like God is silent, it’s because He is. Sometimes when we can’t see His promises in our lives, He has hidden them…but only temporarily. It’s because we’ve let pride get in the way. We’ve substituted pride as our counsel. Again, He speaks to, He gives counsel to, those who demonstrate that they fear him—those who worship and trust Him, alone.

THREE: Impatience—Maybe I fully trust God. Maybe I don’t. Regardless, I don’t trust Him to come through soon enough! When we’re in the middle of something difficult or painful, we want it to be over ASAP. It’s so hard to wait on Him and to trust Him through the waiting. 

I’ve learned lately that there is so much value in patience. We can learn so much in that awful meantime. But if we’re constantly waiting on the next thing to happen that we think will make us happy and fulfill us, then waiting is all we will ever do. We won’t actually live. We’ll miss out. I think the Enemy must get so much joy from that—getting us so caught up in what’s wrong with our present circumstances that we lose sight of the love of our Savior altogether.

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord (Lamentations 3:25-26).

The book of Lamentations is usually credited to Jeremiah. This part comes right after he’s been talking about the Lord’s faithfulness and mercy. The combination of talk of the Lord’s goodness and this gentle command to wait patiently brings such peace. Let that quiet your anxious heart.

Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God. Happy are all who wait patiently for Him (Isaiah 30:18).

I love this. His mercy will come. He is compassionate. He is a just God. But He is those things in His timing, not ours.

I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be courageous and let your heart be strong. Wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:13-14).

For the last nine months, I have prayed those verses over my own soul without ceasing. In them, God promises that we will see His goodness here and now, in the land of the living. It’s not just something to hope for in heaven. He commands us to be courageous and expectant in our waiting.

Let’s end with some words from our boy, Paul:

…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:11-13).

Paul was in prison when he wrote his letter to the Philippians. Prison—the opposite of freedom. Yet, I hear so much freedom in his words. Paul wasn’t bound by his circumstances. He found freedom in the midst of captivity through contentment. 

Father, It truly is for freedom that you have set us free. What a mercy! I ask that when we are tempted to turn to anything in this world for comfort or satisfaction, please be swift to redirect our focus to you, the lover of our souls. Remind us of the bondage that comes with seeking joy outside of you. Teach us to trust you, alone, with our desires. You are the Provider. You are the Sustainer. You are Love. Thank you for our Savior, through whom you have promised us abundant life and eternal contentment.

Amen.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

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