'This is not what I'd planned on!' How often have those words echoed from the walls of our hearts and homes? If you've been so fortunate as to have your life flow in planned routine, count your blessings, my friend. Count your blessings, but know that the unexpected can occur at any given time. A financial setback or even financial ruin, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a home, the disappearance of a child or other close family member, a devastating medical diagnosis, an unexpected divorce, a job transfer that takes us miles from the comfort zone of family and friends…the list could go on and on.
The great apostle Paul wrote, '…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.' Phil 4:11 NASB. Contentment is something I believe we all crave. It's so easy to be content when life seems to be flowing along with no setbacks or disappointments. But we all know that life without either is both unrealistic and, I would dare to suggest, not in our best interest. The little sapling that cannot stand up to a brisk wind will likely never become a sturdy tree. Muscles that are never used will, in time, become atrophied and useless. Setbacks, dissapointments, even devastations tax our resources, try and increase our patience, and flex and strengthen our spiritual muscles.
I fully realize I may be 'preaching to the choir' here, but I also believe being reminded of the possibility and (dare I say) inevitability of life changes is needful. If we dare forget, our heavenly Father, in His wisdom, can, and often will, remind us. Maybe you're facing the daunting responsibility of raising a grandchild. Maybe you've lost a beloved spouse, and now your future is crucially altered, both financially as well as relationally. Maybe you or a spouse have received an unexpected and unwanted medical diagnosis, or perhaps it's your young child who's received it. How in the world are we supposed to be content under such circumstances?
Contentment doesn't come within our own power, nor does it come easily. It may not come until you've cried all the tears you can cry, or until you've vented and allowed any built up anger to be voiced, or until you've prayed for many, many hours. I'm not one who finds contentment without struggle. It takes effort, and, most of all, it takes relinquishing my hold on whatever situation I'm facing and giving it to God. That's never been easy for me. I'll admit I'm better at it than in the past, but it's still something I wrestle with. Maybe that's why the Father continues to allow me to face disappointments and the readjustment of plans and routine. Maybe it's because I still need to be reminded that He is in control.
James tells us, 'Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,' James 1:2 NASB. In our finite minds that sounds almost impossible. But he continues, 'knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have it's perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.' James 1:3-4 NASB.
Honestly, I don't like trials. But I want very much to be perfect and complete in Him who is my example. May we grow more like Him and learn to be content even when life is interrupted.
Dear Father, forgive me when I think I have things all figured out. Forgive me when I allow uncertainty, doubt, and fear to take control. Lord, help my unbelief! Help me, Father, to remember that trials and the testing of my faith are for my good, and because you love me. Forgive me when I whine and grumble. Make me more like Jesus. In His name, Amen!