I have been in a Bible study on the book of Philippians the last few weeks. It is such a rich book and something different has stood out to me or has been discussed each week that I can apply to my life and my walk with Christ...thanksgiving, suffering with Christ, striving toward a gospel worthy life, counting everything in my life as loss besides knowing Christ and being content in any and every situation.
Contentment and discontentment, those are two words with a lot of meaning behind them. Our Bible study teacher described discontent as being the result of unmet expectations. That's a good definition to describe how I have felt for a long time...discontent because of the unmet expectations I had for my daughter that I felt I was entitled to and that God let me down on. Well, if I'm being truthful, discontent really didn't even begin to describe what I felt when the doctors told me my baby girl would never walk, talk, or even know me as her mother. Discontent isn't the tip of the iceberg when we brought her home from the hospital and she screamed in pain for hours and hours on end every single day. In fact, I longed for discontent when all I could do was hold her helplessly as she cried. Tears streaming down my own face, my sobs only muffled by her cries as I begged God for relief and answers.
I had left discontent so long ago that I didn't even know how to get back there. I was living in the land of anger and bitterness, sadness and exhaustion, desperation and brokenness of heart. How could I get from that place to a place of contentment? I didn't even know that's where I needed to be much less that I ever had any hope of getting there, it truly never occurred to me at the time. All I could think of was "God if you would just heal her then everything would be fine, we could all go back to normal," but normal was not what He had planned.
God showed me a different way to see my "what if..." and my "if only..." Through His unrelenting love and unending patience, He's changed my "if only you would heal her..." to His "if only you will trust Me." He has replaced my "what if she never gets any better" to His "what if you turn your worry over to Me and live in My joy again." It is only through Him, nothing of my own strength or ability, that I am able to be content in my circumstances and it is still a day by day thing, believe me.
I can be satisfied and content in my circumstances when I rely on God to supply all my needs. When I look to the world to supply my needs I am left empty, tired and defeated. I will never have enough, I will always want more and I will never measure up according to the world's standards, so I keep my eyes focused on the one who created me. The One who stood in the gap for me and took my sin upon Himself. My suffering has not been in vain, God has not allowed my suffering to be wasted. He has carried me when I could not stand on my own and has shown me how to walk again in a world I never wanted to be a part of. By His power which is made perfect in our weakness, He has brought our hearts out of brokenness and into contentment. Like I said, it's still not an everyday thing for me, but it's a beautiful place to be and I'd like to stay.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."