“True contentment is a real, even an active virtue – not only affirmative but creative. It is the power of getting out of any situation all there is in it.” ~ G.K. Chesterton
When I came across this quote last week, I was feeling particularly introspective about the topic of contentment. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about over the past few months, having spent several class periods discussing it during my last semester of college.
Like many people in my culture, I’ve sometimes struggled to live in a state of contentment.
Jesus Himself said “blessed are those who mourn.” And the older I get, the more I realize how much there is to mourn over.
Every day the news recounts the suffering of thousands worldwide. We read about wars and famines across the globe. Government policies threaten to bring us into economic crisis. And warring political functions in the government and the media reveal a truth that is murky at best.
Close to home, my eyes are opened more and more to the lost all around me. Friends and family struggle, and not everyone stays on the path. The wheat and the tares look very much the same, and there are no guarantees when it comes to who you can trust.
Yet, the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi that he had found the secret to being 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,” he said.
He revealed his secret: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, ESV).
The “him” to whom Paul refers is, of course, Jesus Christ. But despite the beautiful simplicity of Paul’s secret, what every Christ follower knows is that the way of God is rarely easy.
Chesterton points out that contentment is active. It is Christ that gives us the power to get “out of any situation all there is in it,” but we must actively seek the mind of Christ to see our situation with His eyes.
Lately God has been opening my eyes to the small joys that surround me. The smell of honeysuckle wafting through an open window. A sip of hot coffee on a cool morning. The pure color of blooming flowers. A firefly blinking his love song in the darkness. The laughter of a table full of friends. The quiet companionship of sleeping house full of those I love best.
If I look at my life through Christ’s eyes, I see how blessed I am. Even on my worst day, I have so much to rejoice about.
No matter how hard it rains, the sun is always shining somewhere.