do I really need to be content right now?


A conversation with a life-long friend was the impetus for my blog post this morning.  We were discussing the topic of contentment.  Interestingly, in the last 24-hours, we’d both struggled with the idea that discontentment with current circumstances is wrong.  Or rather, as good Christians (let’s be honest, what does that even mean!) we should momentarily allow ourselves to feel a touch of sadness (anger, discouragement, frustration…you fill in the blank) and then quickly pick ourselves up by our britches, and with graciousness simply move on in the blink of an eye.  I mean, honestly, if we’re supposed to be clothed in armor (Eph. 6:8-10), aren’t we impenetrable to things that might hurt us?!

Whatever.

I happen to love action movies (I promise I didn’t just veer off on some random bunny trail…stick with me).  I’ve seen Gladiator and Braveheart and 300 (multiple times). Those guys NEVER walk away from a battle without some type of bloody memento, despite the massive amount of metal covering the most vulnerable parts of their human bodies.  Which got me thinking – armor is designed to protect our most susceptible organs.  Those verses in Ephesians don’t describe the Iron Man suit; they illustrate a set of protective coverings that guard our most precious assets – our heart (righteousness & love), our feet (endurance), and our head (the ability to think and process information).  I realize that we are also given a shield, which is used to protect the body as a whole, but under the harshest of attacks, even this piece of armor cannot shelter the entire body from harm.  And so, at any given moment we are vulnerable, vulnerable to loneliness, fear, failure, discouragement, and even discontentment.

Interestingly enough, the definitions I reviewed for the word content all include a phrase like this; to be adequately happy, to be reasonably happy, to be willing to accept.  There is no definition (that I found) that describes contentment as including a complete absence of unpleasant emotions.  Words like “reasonably,” “adequately,” and “willingness,” to me, indicate a process. If I am content in this moment, I am working towards total fulfillment in Christ.  And with that endeavor comes both moments of joy and sorrow.

II Corinthians 4:8-10

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”

So, I will proceed on this journey properly clad in my suit of armor yet radically accepting (oh…a topic for another post!) that injury is still fully possible and quite likely. I will have moments where my movements towards happiness joy are slower going than others, but I am committed to placing one foot in front of the other and keeping my eyes fixed on the ultimate goal.

One of my moments of near total contentment.

 

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4 Responses to do I really need to be content right now?

  1. garyb says:

    True true sister! I have seen within singles that there is a fear if we become content–specifically with singleness–then we lose the desire of being in a relationship (married).
    But they co-exist, just as Joy does even while we have circumstances that are unpleasant etc…

    The really neat thing, that besides the armor that a soldier would wear, he was given a paraklete. One to stand next to, specifically to watch the most unprotected area, the backside. They would stand back to back when the battle intensified, guarding the area we are most blind to. And isn’t it awesome that when Christ ascended, He sent us our paraklete! The Holy Spirit!

    Oh how the Holy Spirit carries me and intercedes for me when I am not so content…:)

  2. garyb says:

    Parakletos Continued…:)

    Our Helper!
    John 14:16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.”

    Our Teacher!
    John 14:25-26 “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

    Our Witness!
    John 15:26-27 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

    Our Revealer and Guide!
    John 16:12-15 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.

  3. Scott Kalis says:

    Hi Deb,

    Sounds like winter has come a bit early… So this is long, but I have a free afternoon and this one struck a cord with me today – more than any other day I think…

    I would ask that you rethink the last sentence of your first paragraph and when we clothe ourselves in “armor”, we might well stave off the things that hurt us, but we also become resilient to those things which make our hearts sing, and bring joy to us. Take it from someone with experience; being a warrior and wearing actual armor or by implanting a mental toughness necessary – you can only do it for so long. You lose your soul and your identity in the process. And – it is very hard to come back from that place.

    Romans 8:24-25
    For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

    When I think of armor and shields, I think of the shield being the first line of defense; it guards or protects, it deflects, and it can incapacitate too. When we allow doubt to creep in and our faith (aka; shield) has been let down, armoring is that thick skin we wear and at least for awhile, survive the onslaught… However – that armor eventually will fracture, and we start to feel the pain no matter how strong we are.

    Picking up our shield again helps us keep those things which hurt us at bay and in some instances, they are crushed. The Romans provided an excellent illustration of how we now can sometimes gather our shields and better protect our entire selves from these attacks. When one thinks of a typical hand-held shield from the movies or ancient studies, they see a disk or some form of rounded plate held by the warrior. This can protect one side of the body and can be moved as the user deems necessary. But – as you pointed out, it does allow for vulnerable positions or places on us to be open. The Romans would close ranks like a turtle shell and better protect the collective than if each person did so alone. I believe strongly, that this is evident in our walking in faith with each other and surrounding ourselves with those who hold similar values and spiritual views as we.

    Ephesians 4:11-16
    And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

    I have some thoughts on being “content” that I could share, personally, but I won’t clog your blog with my own prose. In the meantime, here are some random things to consider;

    “Contentment” translated in Greek is “autarkeia” which has been said to be ”a perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed.”

    In Phil.4:11 Paul said, “I have learned in whatever state I am therewith to be content”.

    “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:9). For this word “sufficient” is the same root word, “arkeo” in Greek.

    One could conclude that “contentment,” from the Bible viewpoint, is not merely a passive willingness to bear whatever comes, but a vital, living, active power to overcome and conquer through the strength and grace of God! Indeed, “Godliness with contentment is great gain,” for then “I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me” (Phil.4:13).

    Good reference;
    http://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Fellowship/What_Bible_Contentment.html

    With respect to your last paragraph in the post – “Radically accepting” sounds like Brayden just welcoming each new day and experiences as if they are the first time (which many are). What a great position statement to have!

    Very thought-invoking post Deb. Especially before lunch so I could spend some time during my lunch break really thinking about things too. Thanks! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow. Miss all you peeps!

  4. Pingback: fact…or feeling. | musingsonthejourney

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