Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Learning the secret

Do you ever find yourself with a restless heart? Discontent with just about everything? I’ve often heard two pieces of advice given on talk shows, at church, and friend to friend about how to make yourself feel better, how to be more content. The first cure for discontentment goes something like this:

1. Look around; when you do, you’ll always find someone who is worse off than yourself. That will help you have a thankful heart.

I’ve tried this strategy, sort of “guilting” myself into a thankful heart. It doesn’t take long for me to find someone who has less money, a harder life, an unhappy marriage, a smaller house, or physical attributes that aren’t particularly desirable. For a while it works, but those “good, thankful” feelings only last until I look outside of myself and see someone else whose situation is better than my own. Then it’s easy to be envious and discontented all over again.

Another popular cure for gaining contentment with yourself is to simply:

2. Be positive.

There is nothing wrong with positive self-talk. Many times it’s a choice we have to make, but being positive isn’t the final cure. There are some days that I can stay upbeat, but other days fatigue, the weight of responsibility, and certain times of the month can steal my ability to see anything positive in my circumstances.

I have found that there is no other solution that can give you the ability to have a foundation of thankfulness—regardless of your situation or circumstances, except a relationship with Jesus Christ.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13

Paul said he had learned to be content in every circumstance; he knew what it was like to be in need and to have plenty. Sometimes as a struggling mom, I think, “Good for you, Paul, ‘cause I’m not there!” Paul’s statement “I have learned the secret of being content” is truly amazing when you find out what Paul actually went through. He was whipped, beaten with rods, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked three times, and spent a day and night in the open sea—not exactly favorable circumstances by anyone’s standards! (See 2 Corinthians 11:24-27.)

What was the secret he learned? In the next verse he says, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” The Message says it like this (v. 13): “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Paul realized that his ability to be content came as a result of his strength through Christ, not because of himself or his circumstances, not because of positive self-talk or finding someone in a situation worse than his own.

You know every problem I’ve faced, every disappointment, every person who has caused me pain. You understand my situation better than I do. Draw me to Your side, Father. Everything that has happened in my life hasn’t been good, but You promise that all things will work into something good. Help me to see Your plan for my life. Thank You for making me a priority, for planning my life before my parents knew I was part of the plan. Help me live my life, not in my own strength, but in Yours. I want to depend on You, not the ideas the world offers. Help me grow to love You more and more every day. Thank You for washing away all the sins I’ve committed, even the owns I would be ashamed to tell anyone about. Thank You for giving me life. It’s because of You, Jesus, that I have hope. In Your Name I pray. Amen.

Now let’s encourage one another. Do you have a favorite verse that helps you get your heart and mind back on track and content in Him? Let’s hear it!

Adapted from Laurie and Sharon’s book Mom…and Loving It!

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