The past two years have been rough for me, my wife and my family. Forced to leave a job I loved and all that I knew—church, friends, familiarity of twenty-six years—to land in the land of until.
Until such and such place calls with a job offer… until I get a raise at work… until I get a promotion at work… until we get to move where we’d like to be… until….
Last night as I was talking with my adult son and listing the litany of my current circumstances, he remarked, “And somewhere in there is contentment.” That statement stuck with me and I thought about it the rest of the evening until (there’s that word again) this morning when I realized that until is the enemy of contentment.
There are numerous Bible verses about contentment:
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. —1 Timothy 6:6–7
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 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. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. —Philippians 4:11–13
5 Keep your life free from from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” —Hebrews 13:5–6
Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it. —Proverbs 15:16
What do you see in these verses? Or, perhaps more to the point, What do you not see?
I know the Bible is full of passages of hope and waiting on the Lord. Not trying to dispute that. But none of these verses say be content until…. Not a single one. Perhaps, somewhere in Scripture there is such a verse; but this theme of being content in current circumstances, I believe jives with the whole of Scripture.
Our hope is not in the things of this world. Our hope is in Jesus Christ and His finished work for us on the Cross. That’s where we should be drawing our contentment. If I can’t be content with what He has done for me, what will ever satisfy my longing? I am not saying I am there yet, for I think that we’re never there—not this side of heaven. There is an until in Scripture, and it should be our life–mission:
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 3:12–14
I ran across this related quote from a 19th century nun:
If I did not simply live from one moment to the next, it would be impossible for me to keep my patience. I can only see the present, I forget the past and take good care not to think about the future. We get discourage and feel despair because we brood about the past and the future. It is such folly to pass one’s time fretting, instead of resting on the heart of Jesus. —Thérèse of Lisieux