Thursday, May 19, 2011

Any and Every Circumstance

Last month, we had a family from Texas visiting our congregation for several weeks in a row. The husband's job brought him to NYC, and since the mother homeschooled all three children, they decided to come with him for his month-long assignment. When I was talking with them, I asked the mother if she missed Texas, and she simply replied, "Not really. I'm pretty content wherever I am."

Wooow. Not the answer I was expecting!

Now I know we need to be content. I read the verses. I hear the sermons. But I guess I'm not quite radiating contentment yet because this mother's answer blew me away! Her genuine contentment was spot-on in an unfortunately rare sort of way.  

I hear about people living on farms and instantly long to be there. I hear about people eating at Cracker Barrel or Chick-fil-a and feel a twinge of jealousy. I hear about people shopping at Publix or Wal-Mart or Target and wish I could just teleport myself to a nice quiet shopping plaza. It's easy to think the grass is greener on the other side... especially cause we don't even have grass here!!! (Okay, there's grass in the parks. But I don't live in a park. That would be nice.)

I'm challenged by this quote I heard a long time ago: "The key to contentment is not me in a different set of circumstances; it's Christ in me."

Sometimes it's easy for me to think my life would be so much better and I would be so much happier if we lived in a cute brownstone on Riverside Drive with a sunshine-filled kitchen in which I would cook like L'Von Qualls and wear super trendy outfits and have amazing hair all the time and always come home from work with a smile on my face and a song in my heart... and insert many more idealistic dreams here...

But the only thing I really need is my God. And if I'm able to come to Him in prayer and seek His will in the holy pages of the Bible, and if I'm striving to be shaped into who He wants me to be, then it doesn't matter where I live or what I have or what task is set before me. Real contentment is gratitude for my daily bread; not eating my bread and wishing it were pizza. Contentment is basking in the mercies of God; not basking in self-pity and comparison. Contentment is looking to the Lord in all things; not looking on others' things with jealous eyes. Contentment is finding joy wherever I am; not dreaming of a million places I'd rather be.

I want to be able to say, "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:11-13).