“Remember that God is All Good, All Wise, and All Powerful.” That was my reminder to my sister as I saw her and her husband into a taxi this morning, going to see a doctor about serious medical issues. Another couple I just got to know both came down with dengue fever yesterday. A friend texted me about multiple family problems. Is there no end to problems?
The morning that my granddaughter died, I confessed to the neighbor that if it weren’t for the confidence I have in my relationship with Christ and the assurance of a home in heaven, I would have no reason to go on living. Not that my life is so bad; it’s pretty good, really. But what would be the use of purely temporal pleasure or satisfaction?
Watching TV in an airport the other day I compared the shallow temporary goals that the programming was appealing to, with the goals that that give permanent satisfaction:
Shallow temporary goal: a perfect body, beautiful and healthy
Satisfying lasting goal: wholeness of soul and spirit
Shallow temporary goal: wealth
Satisfying lasting goal: God’s provision for today and eternal riches in heaven
Shallow temporary goal: admiration and acceptance
Satisfying lasting goal: to be loved and accepted by God
The goal of all advertising and programming is to create discontent. But God’s goodness, wisdom and power produce in me a quiet contentment that equips me to face today and every day.
“The United Nations Human Development Index 2011 measures happiness in different countries based on factors such as income, education, health, life expectancy, economy, gender equality and sustainability.” Norway, they say, is the happiest country. The US is #4. (Source: CNN Travel website.)
Looking at the website, I don’t see the word “happiness.” That seems to be an inference made by the CNN writer. But assuming the viewpoint that these factors comprise happiness,what’s wrong here? By these standards, Scrooge might have been a happy man, and definitely Bob Cratchit (father of Tiny Tim) would not be. However, the reverse was actually true in that well-loved Christmas tale.
In this scheme, where are the following factors?
sense of purpose & fulfillment
solid loving relationships
a clean conscience
And greatest of all, faith and hope in our Creator and Savior
If you had to choose between the first list (health, wealth, long life) and this second list, which do you think would make you happier? And do the more “developed” countries really have a corner on happiness? Having lived in both, I think not.
“All I need for an overnight trip is my towel and flip-flops. Put them in a bag and I’m complete!” Words of contentment from a young man in a remote community. On another occasion, an older woman of that community told us that she’s content as long as she has a toothbrush and a couple of other things (which I unfortunately forgot). And me? What-all do I consider essential?
Contentment is focused three times in the letters of the New Testament.
Contentment enables us to focus on the tasks that God has for us to do.
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need. (Philippians 4:11-13 NLT Written from prison!)
Contentment protects us from sin.
Yet true religion with contentment is great wealth. After all, we didn’t bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
Contentment is based on God’s presence and protection. If God is with me, that’s all I need.
Stay away from the love of money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,
“I will never fail you.
I will never forsake you.”
That is why we can say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper,
so I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)