“I can’t wait ’till I’m bigger,” my young student whispered in my ear. This got me to thinking, why is it we spend our early years wishing we were older and our later years wishing we were younger? Are we never content to be where we are in life? Growing up we are always anxious to reach the next stage, gain the next privilege, such as a driver’s license, or to be tall enough to ride the roller coaster. We are impatient and life moves too slowly for us. Then, when older, life flies past us and we wish to slow it down. We spend our days waiting on our future to arrive or longing for our past to return. In the process, today escapes us. Contentment eludes us.
In Philippians 4:12-13 Paul spoke to this issue when he said, “. . . I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” We are not a culture that practices contentment, we always want to be where we are not or to have what we don’t have. We haven’t learned to be content in all situations; employed or unemployed, single or married, young or old, rich or less rich (since by global standards even the “poor” among us are richer than most of the rest of the world just by virtue of living in this country.) When we are in school we can’t wait to be graduated, when we are out of school we think about going back, thinking life will be more satisfying perhaps if we study something different.
Our constantly changing hair colors could be a clue that contentment continues to elude us in matters both large and small. We find ourselves endlessly in pursuit, but in pursuit of what? Until we know the answer to that question, we are not likely to find peace in the moment. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? . . . Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:27, 34)
Worry and strife, the thieves that rob us of our todays and leave us discontented and empty. Worry about things that may never come to pass steals our peace and keeps us from fully living in the moment. It’s amid the mundane moments of our every day lives that the profound emerges, popping up when least expected. We must be fully present to recognize, engage and enjoy the profound amid the mundane or she will be gone before we realize she had made an appearance; an appearance transforming an ordinary day into an extraordinary one, making clear what was cloudy for the briefest yet brightest of moments. But only for those able to behold the appearance of the profound amid the mundane and bid her linger.
What was “the secret” Paul said he had learned? To trust in God to strengthen him. Trust and worry cannot coexist, they are mutually exclusive. We are either doing the one or we are doing the other, we can’t do both at the same time. We can choose. If we are worrying we are robbed of contentment. If we are striving for what we feel we lack, we are not at peace. We don’t have to live in a constant state of discontent. That was never the plan. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) Nothing lacking there. “You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16) “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
With our Creator are peace and contentment. “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3)
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
To live content is to live free; free from worry and constant striving. Free to live today fully instead of wishing it away. May you rest content in God’s peace and provision.
sincerely, Grace Day