I have often fallen into the trap when pastoring people and when dealing with my own life to think that if some external circumstances change happiness will follow.
However the older I get the more I realise that happiness is fleeting and contentment is not based on external circumstances.
Now I am not talking about tragic or incredibly difficult situations. These obviously effect our emotional well-being. As does chronic pain, mental health problems, isolation and long term stress.
However I know that as a younger believer I was often thinking that when X happens I will be content, then life will be good.
These days, I often have students in my office upset because they thought that by 21 they would be married, or the next Darlene Zschech or – add in your own dream or goal.
There is nothing wrong with having goals and dreams, however they cannot be the source of our contentment.
We have to learn how to find purpose and contentment no matter what circumstance we are in. If we don’t we will spend our lives chasing the next thing, and nothing will ever satisfy.
I get the angst. Being in my 50’s and being single is not what I dreamed for my life. However one day after a lot of tears I realised – in the words of Joshua in the Old Testament – that life and death stood before me- and I had a choice.
I could stay in bed and be miserable and depressed or I could stand up and choose life.
I decided that I wanted to choose life. I wanted to be content where I was and not wait for some-one or something else to happen to make me enjoy my life.
I was going to acknowledge the tough parts of the circumstances but heck I was going to enjoy my life. I was going to work really hard to find the secret of being content no matter what the circumstances.
We all have bad days, but we have to be careful we don’t believe the lie that we will be happy when … when we get the new job, the new house, the new whatever. (Mind you some new boots right now would honestly make a big difference 🙂 )
Contentment knows that we have been graced by God for the season we are in. That this grace is enough for us. Contentment comes from a heart that is grateful what we have and is not constantly comparing our lives to everyone else’s gorgeous Instagram photos !
I know its not easy – believe me we have to fight to stay content – however its a great place to get to . I am so inspired by the Apostle Paul who was content in shipwrecks, floggings and stonings, as well as then he was feted and abundantly looked after ! When I grow up I want to be like him !
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