I once read a testimony of a missionary family on a south Pacific island with limited finances, plagued by discouragement and malcontent. Until the day their young son prayed over lunch.
“Thank you Lord,” he prayed, “for everything we have. Thank you for our family, for our house, for our clothes, for this good food. And for our beds, and the table and chairs, and the dishes and the glasses…”
His parents, sure he was just goofing off, were about to stop him. Until they realized, in amazement, that he was simply praying from a heart of overflowing gratitude. That simple encouraging prayer reminded the parents of how much they had. And restored their faith, trust, and contentment.
Contentment. Such a simple thing, and yet so hard to hold on to.
Contentment is defined as happiness with your situation in life. As Christians, we are God’s own children, called by his name, and seated in heavenly places with him.
What better life situation than that? We should be oozing contentment! And should be the most content of all people. But the problem is that contentment does not happen automatically. It takes cultivating and we often lack the proper tools.
So let’s unearth a few basic tools for cultivating deep abiding contentment!
1. Counting our blessings.
This seems trite because we’ve heard it so often. But counting blessings can help us stop wanting more — by seeing that we already have enough. And enough really is, well, enough!
2. Remembering benefits often overlooked.
Like those missionary parents we often take much for granted. Our soft bed, bursting closets, our ticking heart, even the air we breathe. We just expect them to be there, forgetting to see them as great provisions.
3. Rearranging our values.
Contentment IS hard in a world of constant hype. But with healthy values in place we see that everything involves a trade-off of some kind. Shopping = More work hours. Stuff = More cleaning and care. Activities = Less rest. More technology use = Less time with loved ones. And so on. More and better does not automatically mean more fulfillment or a better quality of life.
4. Pursuing generosity.
Christ teaches generosity. Not only because it’s the right thing to do and helps others. But because it liberates our heart. The things or activities we allow in our lives have in some way captivated our heart. By letting them go or keeping them in their rightful place, our heart is freed to soar toward higher things.
5. Seeking right priorities.
Many seek satisfaction and contentment from money or success. But if these could bring happiness, then millionaires and workaholics would be the happiest people in the world!
We need things in this life. But true contentment comes when we realize that God will always provide our needs.
And when we give him thanks at all times!
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8 (ESV)