Friday, January 13, 2006

Objections to Contentment

There are often times objections in life, reasons why one can't be content. But God's word and Paul's example leave us with only reasons to be content! Here are just a few circumstances that can sometimes challenge ones contentment.

Financial difficulty

I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked” 2 Corth 11:27

Paul knew what it was like to face finacial difficulties and through this trial he learned contentment.

Chris and I have had many opportunites to trust God in the area of finances. While attending the Pastor's College there came a point where we simple had no more money left. We had only two months to go and weren't sure where the money would come from. There was definetly a temptation to worry and and be anxious. But we prayed and trusted that God would be faithful. And he was, amazingly random check after random check would come in the mail from those who knew us and even a few who hardly knew us at Covenant Life but the Lord had laid us on their heart.

Sometimes it's not as much finacial difficulty as it is I wish we had more. I wish we had more money so that I could buy the nice cute clothes at JCrew rather than the cheaper ones at Ross. Or maybe if we had just a little more I could finally fix the blinds in our house that seem to keep falling off one by one ( we inherited these plastic vertical blinds). Whatever it may be concerning finaces I have no reason to be discontent!

Matt 6:25 says,
25 e “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

He knows what we need. When we are anxious, we are saying that God doesn’t know what we need – no, God is worthy of our trust in him for financial provisions. We can embrace the opportunity to learn contentment through this trial.

Physical Illnesses/ Sufferings

2 Corthians 11:23-29 we learn that Paul was beaten with whips five times and rods three times.

Many scholars believe that Paul’s thorn in his flesh, as described in 2 Corthians 12:7 was a chronic physical ailment. Through this Paul learned contentment.

The temptation for me when I am sick is thinking that I could be more use to the Lord if I was healthy. Look at the souls I have to train, the laundry that’s piling up, the support I want to give Chris. Thinking all of this arrogantly of course, as if I have anything to offer to God, or that I know better for myself. This particular objection is something the Lord used in my life this year to learn contentment as I stated in my ealier post. The Lord showed me through lack of sleep how reliant I was upon my self and not the Lord for strength. I am so thankful for this trial/testing of my faith.

No sometimes that Lord wills for us to redemptively suffer and even in our suffering we are still doing better than we deserve.

Ponder with me this quote from Watson

“Your sufferings are not so great as your sins: put these two in the balance, and see which weighs heaviest; where sin lies heavy, suffering lie light. A carnal spirit makes more of his sufferings, and less of his sins… The carnal heart cried, Take away the punishment; but a gracious heart cries Take away the iniquity. One saith Never anyone suffered as I have done, but the other saith, never any one sinned as I have done.

I think this is what it means to be cross-centered in sufferings!

Memories of a sinful past:

We all have sinful pasts, some more painful than others. I have friends who have lost their virginity, done drugs, and all of us have lead proud lives that went against the Lord at one point or another.

1 Timothy 1:12-17 says that Paul had been a blasphemer, persecutor, and violent man- even a murderer.

However,instead of being discontent with his sinful past and burdened by guilt he saw his former sins as constant reminders of God’s forgiving grace and mercy. Paul learned contentment through his sinful past. This is how we should view our pasts!

Again Watson “ It is Satan’s policy, either to keep us from seeing our sins; or if we will needs see them, that we may be swallowed up of sorrow."

I have a stack full of 10-12 journals that I began when I was 12. Some of them are absoulutely painful for me to read. In my early teen years I was not living a life pleasing to God. I was proud, arrogant and the whole world revolved around me! In my single years I had a strong desire to be married, it was an idol. ( Singlness is will be the next post) More than that I thought I knew who I was suppossed to marry and couldn't figure out why the Lord wasn't making it happen. I was discontent (big suprise!) My first instinct when I go back and re-read these journals is to shred it up into tiny pieces and burn them. Let's face it's not something I really want someone to get there hands on. But I force myself to keep them on our bookshelf so that at any time I can be reminded of God’s Grace in my life and the sin that I have been forgiven of!! And if someone was to get there hands on them I hope that God's grace in my life would be evident!

More objections to come later.

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