Putting Our Contentment to the Test
When I imagine an image portraying contentment, it’s the moment my newborn-once their tummy was full-lay prostrate over my shoulder in deep slumber. No attempts to burp are effective. They rest in total satisfaction and comfort, uninhibited by the world around them. Their breath moves peacefully in and out, drool oozes from the corner of their mouth, their arms lay sprawled over me.
These are some of my sweetest memories. It was usually late at night with exhaustion taking over, but watching their contented rest, their needs fully met, was a significantly rewarding sight.
Some days, it’s a reach to consider our utter dependence on God. We carry this perceived ability to control many of our circumstances: what we’ll cook for dinner, where we’ll go, how we’ll get there, and how we will spend our money. We face numerous daily decisions in our everyday lives, and as we lead in our workplaces and ministries. These roles and responsibilities can tug our mindset into the cultural worldview of self-sufficiency.
Yet, all our strivings will never fully satisfy.
Caught in the middle of Jesus’ sermon on the mount, he teaches the crowd about avoiding worry by trusting the God who supplies for all our needs, in all our circumstances.
Content in Our Identity
“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt 6:26).
A newborn baby inherently knows their value, and they communicate it-loudly. But their understanding extends as far as me.
Do you believe you have value? Not the value we think we give ourselves, this is misplaced, for “some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Ps 20:7). The worth we carry results from being image bearers of the king, as knit together in our mother’s womb (Ps139:13), as called by his grace and set apart before we were born (Gal 1:15) and as loved (Rom 5:8). This is what the Father graciously grants us as his children.
Our strength will fail us, our determination will waver, and our efforts will be futile unless we rest in his truth that though we are sinful and broken, our identity as believers is in Christ alone.
How does your identity impact your satisfaction in Christ?
Content in Who God Is
“For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matt 6:32).
When our babies cry out, they’re letting us know something’s up and they need us. As caring parents, we seek to provide for them by changing their diaper, snuggling them, or feeding them. If you’ve ever reached that frustrating moment where you’ve tried everything, twice, to help them settle to no avail, you know that feeling of helplessness and fatigue.
God knows what you need.
It’s never a guessing game for him. He doesn’t try one thing first in uncertainty. He is omniscience, which means he is all-knowing. Of first importance, He knows the condition of our hearts. How it’s “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jer 17:9). We need divine help and healing.
Then, in his great love, he met our desperate need by sending Christ to endure the punishment meant for us, so we could be in right relationship with the Father again. This is our great provision. As Abraham and Isaak stood on the mountain, after the angel boldly intercedes, they look over at the ram caught in the brush; the Lord provides.
With our daily needs, he again provides endlessly for us by his grace, reminding us, through the gift of the Spirit, of his promises and the truths of the Word. He equips us with the means of grace to grow our relationship with him.
How has God been providing for your needs?
Content in our Circumstances
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33).
All a newborn knows is to call out when they’re in need-it’s a singular focus. In the same way, Jesus teaches a single focus: Seek his kingdom first, over everything.
When it’s not the job we want-seek him first. When our children are struggling-seek him first. When life is not going the way you want-seek him first. When you’re waiting for an answer in prayer-keep seeking him first.
It may sound simple, but living out those three words is hard. It’s the narrow door to walk through (Luke 13:24), it’s our endless labor (1 Tim 4:10), and the goal we press on toward (Phil 3:14).
How are you trusting the Lord in your circumstances?
May we continue, by his grace, to pursue the life of contentment, as we recognize our great need, the Lord’s provision and his ongoing work in our lives.
[*This post first appeared in the Watered Garden newsletter, October 2021]