Contentment is a mystery (Ch 2 and 3)

“A godly heart enjoys much of God in everything he has, and knows how to make up all wants in God himself.”

Chapters 2 and 3
Rare Jewel
Jeremiah Burroughs

I’m trying to keep it real. I’m trying to make it personal.

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What are you LEAST content with, this day/week/month?

For me, it’s my husband’s work schedule. I’ve been fighting spiritual warfare here for several months. There have been victories, thanks to the grace of God. God has answered prayers to keep our marriage strong. He has miraculously helped me keep my complaining to a minimum. And He has helped me understand that my “suffering” is relatively small compared to Jeff’s much tougher situation. 

But I’m still not where I want to be. My attitude still needs work. And even though the work circumstances are temporary, I want to take advantage of them to learn more spiritual lessons in Christian contentment…to take it up a notch.

Enter Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Chapters 2 and 3.

* * * * *
Jeremiah Burroughs lays out 13 things about the Mystery of Contentment.

1. Most satisfied = Most dissatisfied
The one most content in God is the same one most unsatisfied with what the world offers. Those things that will satisfy the world will not satisfy him.

2. Subtract, not add
The world is infinitely deceived in thinking that contentment lies in having more than we already have. But the truly content match their hearts to their circumstances, not vice-versa.

3. Take on a heavier burden 
Instead of being dissatisfied that your burden remains, add another burden—the sin in your heart. The heavier the burden of your sin is to your heart, the lighter will be the burden of your affliction to your heart, and so you shall come to be content. Humble your soul before God for your sins.

4. Let it morph
Let the affliction turn into something else. Let God bring light out of darkness. In scripture, you do not find one godly man who came out of an affliction worse than when he went into it; though for a while he was shaken, yet at last he was better for an affliction.

5. Work it
Fulfill the duty of the circumstance. Set your heart to work in the immediate situation instead of dwelling on greener grass elsewhere. The circumstances that I am in, God has put me into by His own counsel, the counsel of His own will. Now I must serve God’s counsel in my generation.

6. Change your will
Make God’s will and your will the same. Change yours into His. See that your good is more in God than in yourself.

7. Purge sin
You don’t need more from the outside to make your condition more comfortable, but instead purge out the sin that is within (James 4:1).

8. Feed on God’s dew
A Christian can get food that the world does not know of; he is fed in a secret way by the dew of the blessing of God. Be content with what you have because: it is from God’s love; it has been sanctified for good; it is free; Christ bought it first; it is a taste of what’s to come.

9. It’s from love
Even in afflictions, see love. All God’s strokes are strokes of love and mercy, all God’s ways are mercy and truth, to those that fear Him and love Him (Psalm 25:10).

10. Jesus was first
Whatever your afflictions, Jesus had them first, and thus they are sanctified by your Mediator.

11. Use Christ’s strength
You can bear your burden by getting your strength from someone else. Find your strength in Jesus.

12. Enjoy God in all
God is in what you have. Don’t live so much in yourself, but in God. The Kingdom is within you (Luke 17:21). God Himself makes up for all your wants.

13. Covenant
Rest on the promises in the covenant that God has made with you.

* * * * *

So for me, that means I allow my satisfaction to come from trusting that God is in control of the work schedule, His hand has allowed it, and He is more than enough to meet my needs in the midst of it.

I am to align my will with His will, see the blessings in the difficulties, humble myself for my sins that it is bringing to light, and do whatever duties are necessary for the day. God brings light out of darkness, and He will morph this into something better in time.  

Christ has been through the same temptations that I’m facing, and he overcame. By resting on His strength, I, too, can resist and can enjoy the Father’s blessings in little things and big things as I trust in in His promises.

My satisfaction comes from God, not from people or places or times. How does that happen? It is a mystery to me, but I believe that it does.

What are others saying?  
Chapters 2 and 3, “The Mystery of Contentment”


Jude St.John said...

There seems to be good reason to see this contentment as both God's grace poured out and an artful skill that we can learn.

Great post!


Lynn said...

I hear your heart in this posting, Lisa, deeper than other times. You are always transparent and honest so there is always "heart" in your postings.

That Jeff's being away so much is "temporary" has to be helpful on some level. Each of us is first and foremost "single before God" and that is where our foundation lies. I think I hear you saying that your are finding God reigning you in to that place with Him when your get so lonely for Jeff being gone.

I liked your comment "God brings light out of darkness". I wrote a devotional for RM that has not been posted but its subject is "depression". I turned that sentence you said a bit around for my title that is "Can I See His Light Within the Night?"

The lessons God is bringing to you do help all of us who come to visit you here so keep sharing as you do!

Blessings, friend!

Lisa notes... said...

Thanks for the encouragement. Yes, the “temporary” is helpful. But it’s also a danger for me. Sometimes I can grit my teeth and bear anything if I think it’s temporary, and not really be dependent upon God to be changing me in the meantime. I don’t want that; I want the deep change. I know it’s a lifelong process, but I get impatient for it now. ;-)

Another danger with the temporary is that sometimes things turn out not to be so temporary after all. And as you know, many of our “afflictions” become not only permanent, but also bring their friends with them to make matters even worse. Developing contentment of soul is so crucial to our spiritual disposition. Your attitude and example are helping me grow in this area!

I’ve looked on-line for your last two e-mail devos that I’ve received (Kite and Compassionate Love), but I haven’t seen them posted on the site’s blog so I couldn’t leave you comments there, but they are so helpful. I’ll look forward to getting your latest creation at least via e-mail.

Laurie M. said...

Once again you've done a great job of summing it up and bringing it home in a very concise way! Blessings to you as you adjust to being content with your current circumstance. (Kicking and screaming against things feels so much better, and playing the victim is a huge temptation for women - but it puts the lie to our profession of God as loving Father when we complain against His providences.) I've got contentment issues of my own and it seems for me that the little foxes are often the ones that end up destroying the vine - so to speak.


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