When I was learning to play upright bass, I had to sacrifice a lot of things to improve…I was practicing all the time, so that means I gave up my sleep, my personal comfort (like when my fingers started bleeding from practice), sometimes I gave up food (‘cause when you’re really jamming you don’t even stop to eat, right?)…
So what I was after in life — becoming a better upright bass player — drove my decisions I was making; my goal motivated me to sacrifice for the greater cause.
Here’s the thing: we all have deep longings in life, right? Things we know we were made for. Sometimes it’s a goal like improving at a skill or moving up in our job. And sometimes it goes even deeper, like wanting to be married or have children, longing to be healed from a disease, wishing you could spend time with a loved one you lost….All our desires in this life drive our decisions about how we live in the world.
All it takes is a quick glance over your life to realize all of us have circumstances that make us feel desperate and boxed in, and for many of us our deep longings in life have to do with circumstances we want to see God end, change, or improve in some way.
So let me ask you this — what would you do if your current circumstances never changed?
I know…I say that, and you’re like, “No, not happening! I can’t handle the thought of that!” But let’s be real, sometimes the hard things in life last way longer than we want.
So how do we experience contentment in those types of situations?
Contentment is surrender to exactly what God is doing at the moment.
Did you catch the timeline on that definition? “In this moment…” Contentment shows up in our lives in two distinct ways — trust and thankfulness — and both those things are rooted in our present reality.
First, let’s talk about trusting God….We live in a culture with little to no overarching trust or surrender to God, sometimes even in the church! We want to be in the driver’s seat. We want to make the rules.
We get stressed out and anxious when we try to figure out God’s plan for our futures, which is why contentment is rooted in the present. Now, real faith doesn’t depend on us denying our circumstances…Contentment isn’t the absence of longing. God can handle our honesty about how painful our circumstances are. But contentment is when you and I trust God enough to say, “Lord, this situation is really difficult for me. Would you change it? I trust that you’re good even though this is really hard.”
When we learn to trust God’s direction for our lives, we become content with what He’s doing in our lives here and now.
When we compare our lots in life to other people’s, that comparison robs us of our contentment. So we have to do the opposite of that — we need to intentionally thank God for His gifts and blessings in our lives.
I dare you to try thanking God and not grow in contentment! It’s practically impossible! Why? Because thankfulness is contagious; once you start down the path of gratitude to God, you’ll find it hard to stop noticing His beauty and blessings all over the place.
And in your trust, and in your thankfulness, contentment is born.
And no matter what circumstances you find yourself in (and there are some really hard ones in this life), you’ll be able to stand in faith and say, “This sucks, and I want it to change. But God, no matter what, I know you’re good.”