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If you read my post from the other day then you know that I have been reading a book and taking a class at my church entitled Calm My Anxious Heart. Only three chapters into the book, and the book has really revolutionized the way I think and I thought it would be a good idea to do a series on contentment and this book. You can read the first post in this series here: My Journey To Contentment.
Still in Chapter 1#
In the last post I left off telling you that the secret to contentment is that it can be learned. At first, it all seemed so impossible, but when I thought about contentment as something that could be learned I realized, that anyone could do that! The book gives us a verse that backs this statement up and a verse our teacher had us write down for us to memorize:
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 11-13
What an amazing statement coming from Paul! Contentment was not something he was born with, it was something he had to learn. And if you know his story, you know his life was not an easy one. Linda Dillow says, “Paul lived an extremely difficult life. He was beaten almost to death, constantly misunderstood, deserted by friends – Paul’s life was anything but perfect and controlled; yet he said ‘I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in.’ Incredible! In other words, contentment can be learned. This means you and I can learn to be content.”
Now that I knew that contentment was something that anyone could have, something that I could learn, next I had to work on my acceptance of my circumstances. Without acceptance, how could I ever learn to be content? How could I stop worrying about things that I did not need to worry about?
Linda Dillow says this about controlling our circumstances:
“I realize I did desire to trust God, but sometimes He was very slow. When He was moving at what I thought was a snail’s pace, I unconsciously decided He needed my help. I know that sounds blasphemous. God doesn’t need our help. Yet when I stepped in to manipulate the circumstances or to organize the people, my actions were saying, ‘God, You’re not doing what I think needs to be done, so I’ll help You out.’ It’s our ‘helping God out’ that leads to an anxious heart. When we take over and try to control what happens, we take our focus off the One who is in control and put our eyes on our circumstances.”
Control is something I have struggled with for a long time. Maybe it started sooner, but I first noticed it after my parents got divorced. My life felt like it was out of control. I wondered where God was and I felt like it was time I stepped in and took control. It is a very selfish decision.
Since then, I have been struggling with it. Anytime something feels out of control, I try and take control instead of letting God take the wheel and letting Him control my life. It’s like God and I are wrestling for the wheel and I either have to give it up or crash.
It wasn’t until I read these next words that I realized that God really does want what’s best for us. He wants good for us, He never hurts us on purpose.
“Contentment is essentially a matter of accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know that He is good and therefore it is good.”
What a thought-provoking statement! Now, I just have to learn to accept the things that come and remember that “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
I have to learn to trust God by faith and to believe this verse with all my heart. As I look back on some of the hardships I have gone through in the past I can see this is true. Sometimes it’s just hard to see it when you are right in the middle of it all. It’s easier to see God’s purpose and will later.
I will leave you with one last quote and then I am done. I hope you will come back and follow along with the next post as I end Chapter 1# and talk about a little something called “teacup theology!”
“Speaker and author Elisabeth Elliot makes this thought-provoking statement about Psalm 16:5:
‘I know of no greater simplifier for all of life. Whatever happens is assigned. Does the intellect balk at that? Can we say that there are things which happen to us which do not belong to our lovingly assigned “portion” (“This belongs to it, that does not”)? Are some things, then, out of the control of the Almighty?
Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion other options are canceled. Decisions become much easier, directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter. A quiet heart is content with what God gives.'”