So often I have struggled to be content, or "satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else." In our world we always want more. More time, more money, more house, more car, more stuff, more ease, more personality, more help...more, more, more! I fall into that trap at times.
Friends, we have it all backwards!
Those areas should be ones of contentment, and still we strive, and work, and toil, and worry in hopes of gaining more.
There are things we should want more of, and then we should go and get them.
I sent this quote to a sweet friend of mine, someone who is laboring for the Gospel in her everyday life, who needed encouragement and challenge to continue doing what she is doing, and to see the purpose in it. Of course, it challenged me as well:
"Never be content with your current grasp of the gospel. The gospel is the life-permeating, world-altering, universe-changing truth. It has more facets than a diamond. It's depths man will never exhaust." -CJ Mahaney
Another thing we should never be content with: our understanding of God. We will spend our entire lives getting to know Him more and more, and when we die we will have so much left to learn, yet our days are valuable if we spend them seeking after MORE of Him.
I know the problem.
That which we should want more of is not easy to obtain.
For instance, hope. Where is hope found?
Romans 5 tells us:
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope
Suffering, endurance, character, then hope. If we desire more hope, we must rejoice in our suffering and allow it to work it's purpose in us. While I cannot say I want more suffering, or trials, in my life, I can say that when they come I am quicker to accept them and to see them as good. I can tell you, with certainty, the progression from suffering to hope, while not fun, is true.
How about joy?
Psalm 19 says,
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
A precept is a commandment, instruction, or order intended as an authoritative rule of action.
Instruction from, and the authority of the Lord produces joy.
This too is counter cultural. We tend to think of authority and instruction as a weight we must bear, and as something to avoid. Our culture tells us to do whatever feels right, to live in anyway we see fit, and to listen to our heart, not to wisdom. Is there, then, any wonder that students don't respect teachers, children do not obey their parents, and America does not follow the precepts of the Lord?
Is there any wonder, then, that our joy is lacking?
I was challenged this week to do 3 things daily:
Read 3 chapters of John
Pray through a list of people
Memorize 4 verses
I have been unpleasantly surprised how hard this assignment has been for me.
John is an intense book of the Bible, and the chapters are long.
Yet, on the days I read in the morning, I had more joy, more patience, and more purpose.
I have been exhausted this week, and had a hard time staying awake to pray.
But when I did, I found hope and peace.
I am not a great memorizer, and yet the Truth in the words I committed to heart have come to me throughout my day.
I have the answers. I have the tools to gain hope, joy, love and faith. God has already equipped me. I only need to use them.