Contentment: Caught Between Bitter and Sweet

Not long ago, I was reading The Brushstroke Legacy by Lauraine Snelling, and the main character’s description of her best friend caught my attention. Here it is:

“But then Bethany would give her some line about God’s grace being new every morning. She [Bethany] wouldn’t recognize a real problem if she tripped over it.”

Ah, the stark hopelessness of the godless viewpoint. Most likely, this friend Bethany has tasted hurt and disappointment of which Snelling’s heroine has no concept. Savor the truth in this verse:

“A sated man loathes honey, but to a famished man any bitter thing is sweet.” Proverbs 27:7 

“Any bitter thing is sweet…” This speaks to my heart, does it to yours? Thankfulness is the crux of contentment. And how do we learn the purity of thankfulness? During the low times.

Contentment is a favorite topic of mine, perhaps because in certain areas I struggle so with it. Most of our friends/family have two incomes, and their homes and hobbies represent that. I constantly tell myself that our lifestyle is priceless, that the sacrifices are evident but worthwhile. It’s true, for us, but lately I’ve had a few nudges from God that I wanted to share here with you. Hopefully they’ll encourage you all, as they’ve encouraged me!

For Christmas, my dh sneaked a Point of Grace CD into my stocking, and their song “How to Live” contains a line I intend to stencil above my kitchen doorway:

“Have what you want, want what you have”…

Another one worthy of framing came from Tommy Nelson’s A Life Well-Lived DVD series,

“The best thing for us is not money. The worst thing for us is not hardship.”

And I’ve been mulling over something I heard Greg Laurie say on Christian radio the other day. I was driving, so of course, I don’t have this verbatim, but he made the point of how humiliating a death sentence a Roman crucifixion was…a death reserved for the very worst of criminals. Jesus was willing to die that type of death for us, and He tells us in the Bible to “Take up your cross and follow Me.” Are we to think that living the Christian life will be one of ease and prosperity? If it were, wouldn’t people be flocking to Christ in droves…all for the wrong reasons?

If you’re human, you’ve wondered why unbelievers always seem to prosper, while so many who truly love the Lord struggle with sickness, financial problems, relational troubles…yes we live in a fallen world, but how better to increase our faith than having to totally rely upon God? We serve a God who works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform…we don’t know what His purposes are for some of the things He allows in our lives, but we can know that it’s all for good, all in His plan. Most of us don’t know true suffering at any rate, not in comparison with many of the saints and heroes of the faith who have gone before us.

Another important reason to practice and strive toward contentment, is that we want our children to follow suit. How sad to have a child that compares their lifestyle to other children and finds it wanting. There’s nothing better than my gift on New Year’s Eve, when my oldest came up and hugged me tight, saying, “I love our family! I’m SO glad God gave us to each other…”

We really get wrapped up in a lot of stress that’s unnecessary, you know? Not only that, it’s a sin. It’s  called covetousness. When I’m old and looking back, I hope the wrinkles on my face are from smiles and not regrets.

“Have what you want, but want what you have…” I have a lifeful of treasure, how about you?