A good friend brought up the subject of Contentment in a rich conversation yesterday. It gave me pause to dwell more deeply on how my own heart desires to experience feeling content with my present circumstances and rest in knowing that God is sovereign. That “all things are for my good” even if I do not presently understand the things and events that surround me in this world.
But if things are working together for good, and for his purpose- shouldn’t it also feel rather good? Or maybe not? Was Contentment ever implied in God’s goodness in scripture? I decided to explore the topic further.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
God works all things together for good for those that love him. This is arguably a most profound verse in Romans that can take a lifetime to dwell upon. For today, I am letting a part sink in. It is the appearance of how “all things” present themselves to each of us and how perspective affects it. From a perspective, as mortal beings- we attach feelings and subsequent states of being. They then cause us to live in what we call peace and contentment or it’s opposite – disruption and chaos.
These feelings and perspectives can be called ways of Viewing Life.
When we are in what I call the “short view”, or our mortal hearts we are attached to our feelings and needs. When we are in what I am calling “the Long View”, we are seeing from spiritual vision and are aware of True Needs. We are infused with Christ’s Spirit.
Continuing with the working of “all things”, when God works in this way, we need to realize that we are receiving his promise from a mortal perspective. When we have needs and expectations they become a filter that is placed in front of our eyes like a lens. We are not able to view our true needs or even our present circumstances in the same way that God can. But we do feel them and experience them vividly. We desire to be free of conflict. We long for Contentment. We seek some kind of end to the lack of peace in our hearts.
What is True Contentment? Is it a view? A thing? A secret? An ability?
I realized that I needed to re-define Contentment. We seem to connect being content with a sense of pleasure and satisfaction but actually the biblical meaning from the Greek word “autárkeia” is (from /autós, “self” and /arkéō, “to suffice, be sufficient”) – properly, self-sufficient; used of the Spirit-filled Christian – having all they need within through the indwelling Christ.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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.
We learn from this that contentment is a learned ability, not one that we are born with. Paul speaks of receiving his strength in Christ, that Christ was the source of all of his contentment. In his life he had known what it was like to have much and also to have nothing, to suffer greatly, to face the direst circumstances. He could be abased, humiliated and worse yet he remained content. His steadiness was not, as he often proclaimed from a strength of his own, it was from relying on Christ.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
When we abide in Christ, our lives bear fruit (the evidence of the Presence of His Living Spirit) for without him we can do no thing. We are filled by him, sufficient in the strength of the Christ indwelling.
True Contentment is Sufficiency through the Indwelling Christ.
That is a different Contentment! All I need is sufficiency through the indwelling Christ. Contentment is peace through his Spirit, it is being Spirit-filled rather than world-filled. My source of sufficiency and ‘good things’ needs to come from Christ. What are the good things that I need? Well, that is a big shift in the heart.
Sufficiency in Christ is different than a feeling, it is a state of being Spirit-Filled.
Our hearts usually expect good things to come from this world. We gather our sufficiency from things that fill us up. When they fail us, we lose the sense of feeling content. Our peace is disturbed. Our needs have not been met. Here is a partial list of some of what our mortal hearts expect, our natural needs. We are born wanting and desiring to be filled up by this world. It is in our nature.
We can make a shift in the way we look at filling our Needs-
- Fill me up with your love of me.
- Fill me up with your approval of me.
- Fill me up with worldly substitutes for security and belonging.
- Fill me up with worldly substitutes for feeling protected.
But God has promised us something more.
Psalm 145: 19
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”
We request “All Things” through God’s Sovereign Will.
Because we are simply mortal, we usually request all these things without consulting God’s Sovereign will. We forget that there may be a “longer view” in place in our lives that only can be seen from the perspective of God’s Heart. Imagine a triangle. At the apex is God’s eye, his view. From the base point, A to B is your own journey in this life moving horizontally. We tend to see only the horizon from the baseline perspective of the triangle. Naturally, we ask from that perspective as well. Yes, even after being soaked in scripture we forget. We become immersed in what is happening in what just happened this week or yesterday. Our good intentions get swept away by a tidal wave of surprises. Life is filled with ‘good starts’.
We need to constantly get back to the High View, The Long View; to God’s Word and to place our hearts into his sovereignty even though they already are! We need to join fully into it! He is beside us, has been the whole while; loving with great mercy and tenderness. It is only our own hearts and minds that temporarily turned away. When we turn back, it is a wonderful reunion filled with tender sweetness and delight. All of the promises are there and true. For those who love God, all things work together for good!
The Eternal Good is given with His constant Presence, He is with us.
In his infinite mercy and goodness, God sees all of our hearts– both the present needs which include all of the above and the True Need- which is the Long View. Our requests are seen and answered but done with a spiritual perspective that envisions The Eternal.
© 2019 Linda Willows
The Long View, in the Sight of You- The Eternal
Help me to gain by the power of Your Spirit, The Long View- in the sight of You.
A glimpse into your sovereign will for my heart, my life and a daily, hourly plan that pleases you.
Help me to let go of lesser needs that bind me,
Give me strength and help me to overcome my lesser views and perspectives
So that I see you, honor you, cherish you, choose you and value what you love
in this world and in the next.
Oh Father, pull forward from my heart what you would love to call to act on your behalf.
Make known in my life the path that calls out the truth and brings your will into being.
Let the contentment of peace of your love reign in my heart throughout the day and night.
Bring your joy into me because you love me as your own.
Place me secured with you, beside you with a clear vision of The Eternal and set the eyes of my heart upon you in this hour and every next!
Thank you, that as your Beloved, your peace lives in my heart now and forever wherever I am.
In Jesus Name,