(This is an excerpt from our August, 2013 newsletter.) Does God sometimes work in themes in your life? This summer’s theme has been the summer, not of my discontent, but of my contentment. What is contentment? The author of the classic The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment defines contentment this way: “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.” Wow! Are you there? I know I’m certainly not. But oh, doesn’t that sound wonderful? In the book of Philippians Paul tells us that he has learned to be content in every circumstance. I love the word “learned” in that statement. Paul had to learn contentment and so do we. It is a process of our sanctification. I think that I have learned more about contentment by discerning my discontentment. What do I complain about? Am I jealous of what others have or can do? What puts me in a bad mood? Where am I fixing my eyes? Usually these are very telling indicators. I love the name for housewife in Spanish, ama de casa. ‘Ama de’ means love of, therefore ama de casa means “love of house.” An ama de casa is a huge part of my identity yet, I often find myself most discontent while I am in my house. Each house that we’ve lived in over the years has had flaws that I fixed my eyes on. I literally dreamt of changing it, making it better, the way I wanted it. It’s crazy, here we are missionaries and we live in the nicest house we have ever lived in with a view to die for.
Do I want to change things? Of course! But now when I find myself having jealous, covetous, complaining thoughts I do my best to take those thoughts captive and replace them with thankfulness. I am learning Godly contentment. It’s not time to change my house, it’s time to change me. In 1 Timothy 6:6 Paul encourages Timothy that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Paul seems to be saying to Timothy, “Pursue it, get it, don’t let go of it. It is worth more than you can imagine.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Paul’s instruction to Timothy state, “…and he writes to the young man Timothy and says: the first thing you have to learn is to be independent of circumstances and conditions—‘Godliness with contentment.’” This was eye opening to me.
I have always let my circumstances and my conditions dictate my contentment. I didn’t want to live like that anymore. I’m learning that I will never be content until I find my true contentment from God. In this my summer of contentment I have found that changing my mind about my house was easier than I thought. It is my home, and not my house, that I love as an ama de casa. It is now discontentment with my body that I struggle with. Most of you know about my bad back and you may even know about my bad feet. In fact you know about them because I’ve told you about them. Complaining? In the past couple of years I’ve had a lot of additional aches and pains that limit my ability to be the ama de casa that I want to be. “I am only 45 years old,” I keep telling God, “Why am I hurting so much while others my age don’t?” Jealousy? In the late evening I have been known to say, “I’m done being mom. I’m going to bed.” Moody?
My discontentment alarms are going off everywhere. Pain can be a constant companion and reminder of discontentment. I therefore have to all the more, with thanksgiving in my heart, set my eyes on things above and not on my condition, not on my circumstances. It is the contentment of knowing that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus and that God has given me everything I need for life of Godliness. Godly contentment, on this I must fix my eyes.