The School Of Contentment – Life Lessons of Jesus
I’ve observed that a large percentage of women in ministry struggle with contentment. I must admit that I’ve fallen into that category at times. Sometimes I cringe when I ask myself, “Am I content with God’s will for my life?”
I’ve always thought that if I’m truly content, I should never experience stress or worry; I shouldn’t desire anything different from what I have; I should be at peace at all times. But is that what contentment really means?
Look at Jesus’ life. If being content means absence of stress and never desiring anything different in your life, Jesus wasn’t content when He neared the end of His life. He struggled greatly with His Father’s will, as seen in Matthew 26:37-39. Jesus said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death…Going a little farther, He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me…’”
Jesus’ agony is not hidden from us. Wouldn’t it be better if Jesus, in His deity, had surrendered without question or hesitation to God’s will? Was it necessary for Him to sweat drops of blood at Gethsemane? Yes, He had to. How else would we be able to approach Jesus and trust that He can understand us when we struggle with the Father’s will for our lives too? Jesus, in His humanness, understood how hard obedience can be.
I believe that the true meaning of contentment is seen in the end of Matthew 26:39, which says, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Here is the example for us to follow. Jesus struggled with the will of God, prayed fervently and ultimately surrendered to it.
Let’s look at each of these three areas in our attempt to understand true contentment:
I must admit that I sometimes don’t get past the first one in this list…struggling with the will of God. I grumble and complain, if not out loud, in my heart. I worry and lose sleep.
Do I think that it’s not “spiritual” to cry out to God when I’m struggling? Look at Jesus’ example. “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death and He was heard because of His reverent submission. Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8).
Jesus Himself cried out (loudly!) with tears. Isn’t it OK for us?
The struggler’s prayer is mostly about me. The second type of prayer is about God.
Hebrews 4:16 tells us to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” We will never find peace without trusting God’s character.
In order to trust God, we must come to grips with some truths about Him. Search His Word to find out who He really is, not just who you have made Him out to be.
We must get beyond the questions of “Lord, what are you doing?” and “Why?” to get to the place where we can say, “Lord, I don’t understand, but I trust You.”
Look again at the example of Jesus. In John 6:38, we read: “I came not to do my will, but the Father’s” (NASB).
When I consider the people of the Bible, I’m amazed at the strength of their faith, which they had without understanding what God was going to do. Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac. Daniel was willing to die in the lion’s den. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were willing to die in the fire. In a very tangible way, they chose to follow God, and He honored them.
Consider Mary, the mother of Jesus. At a young age, she was asked of God to do a very big task. I am impressed with her response—“I am the Lord’s servant, may it be done to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). How did she deal with the questions about her pregnancy when she was yet a virgin? Was she ridiculed and shunned?
Has God asked you to trust Him in an area that you find difficult? God longs to have us come to Him but waits until we are ready to surrender to Him.
Back to our question, “Am I content with God’s will for my life?” There will be times in each of our lives when we are not. The important thing is where we go from there. Learn from Jesus.