Psalm 111; Genesis 18:1–15; Philippians 4:10–20
One of the harder things about being a Christian is that God often doesn’t give our heart’s desires. We describe God as good, loving, giving, and many other positive traits. Yet, the giving (or lack thereof) often gets in the way of our understanding of God’s goodness, loving, and giving nature.
Abraham and Sarah are the case in point. Do we really think that Abraham and Sarah haven’t been praying and pleading for a child up until now? Of course not! By this point, though, all common sense of being able to have a child has been fulfilled. Perhaps (though the Bible doesn’t say) Sarah had already completed menopause. What hope, from a human perspective, could there be?
Yet, Abraham didn’t stop himself from having God at the center of his life (which also doesn’t mean that he stopped making mistakes). We have all known people, perhaps even ourselves, who longed for a child of their own but may have had a long road of sadness and heartbreak. Some may have ended up with children of their own. Some may have adopted. Others may have chosen to invest in the children of others.
Contentedness, however, is something altogether different…maybe.
Paul was content. His heart was focused on something different, and that’s okay. There is often a focus on Paul’s content that is not in line with…Paul’s content. Paul’s focus was his testimony and the Christian communities he left behind. He was content that he had done his best, and content in his place in God’s plan.
It is possible to be content while striving for something. Even Paul continued to strive for the mission and dealt with the heartache for his distant communities as they struggled.
There is another way to view “content”, accepting circumstances with an open and loving heart. It includes trusting God. This understanding of content allows recognition that not everything is as it should be, so that there is room for improvement. This could also be understood as not allowing the circumstances to poison your heart against God or others.
- How have you understood content in the context of a Christian life? How does the world understand content?
- How do we often allow circumstances to poison our hearts against God?
- What has been (or is) the biggest issue in your life that caused (or causes) struggles in your content?
As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness. Amen. (Psalm 17:15, NIV)
Ian is an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene, and is currently Co-Lead Pastor at Enumclaw Nazarene Church in Enumclaw, WA, USA.
He has previously served as Online Campus Pastor at Generations Community Church in Marysville, WA, USA; Associate Pastor at Snohomish Church of the Nazarene; College and Young Adult Pastor at Moscow Church of the Nazarene in Moscow, ID, USA.
Ian also writes at Starlyth.info (personal) and Nazarene.Digital (On Digital Transformation of the Church)