Thursday, February 5, 2009

Learn to be content

I found this article on contentment and it was a real blessing to me. I wanted to share it with you and hope it will be a blessing to you as well.

Sometimes contentment means:

(1) Learning to be happy with less. A hard-charging executive decided to spend a few days in a monastery. "I hope your stay is a blessed one," said the monk who showed him to his cell. "If you need anything let us know. We'll teach you how to live without it." Happiness isn't getting what you want, it's enjoying what God's given you. Paul said he had learned to be content, "Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

(2) Reminding yourself things could be worse. Snoopy was lying in his dog house one Thanksgiving Day, mumbling about being stuck with dog food while all those humans got to be inside with the turkey and gravy and pumpkin pie. "Of course, it could have been worse," he finally reflected, "I could have been born a turkey." Reminding yourself "It could be worse" can be a powerful developer of contentment.

(3) Understanding that what you seek is spiritual, not material. Paul says to beware of "greed, which is idolatry" (Col 3:5 NIV). Our problem isn't just that we want more, it's that the condition which underlies all our wanting is that we really want God. As Augustine said, "Our souls will never rest, until they rest in Thee." Why would God let us feel at home, when this world is not our home? Our dissatisfaction, if we let it, can sharpen our spiritual hunger and cause us to pray, "Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Mt 6:10 NIV).

Michael Drosnin wrote a book about a man who wanted more wealth, so he built one of the biggest financial empires of his day. He wanted more pleasure, so he paid for the most glamorous women money could buy. He wanted more adventure, so he set air speed records, built and piloted the world's most unique aircraft. He wanted more power, so he acquired political clout that was the envy of senators. He wanted more glamour, so he owned film studios and courted stars. Drosnin tells how this man's life ended: "He was a figure of gothic power, ready for the grave. Emaciated, only 120 pounds stretched over his six-foot-four-inch frame...thin scraggly beard that reached its way onto his sunken chest, hideously long fingernails in grotesque yellow corkscrews ...Many of his teeth were black, rotting stumps. A tumor was beginning to emerge from the side of his head...innumerable needle marks...Howard Hughes was an addict. A billionaire junkie."

So here's the question: If Hughes had pulled off one more deal, made one more million and tasted one more thrill, would it have been enough? The illusion of gratitude is that we will experience it more, if we get more! No, making sure a child gets everything they want destroys their initiative and dulls their sense of gratitude and contentment. Don't you find it interesting that the man who wrote, "I have learned the secret of being content" also wrote, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1Thess 5:18)? You cannot make yourself a more grateful or contented person, but you can pray for it and open your heart to it.

"I have learned the secret of being content." Philippians 4:12 NIV

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