Tag Archives: struggle

On The Unknown Road

The cold snapped in the air as the sun shone distant and too bright through the windshield of the car as we traveled along the road.  Chase’s first day of therapies.  A new building, new people, new things to be learned…the start of a new chapter.  And with the new, came the old and familiar: the fear of the unknown and the question – what lies ahead?  Always that question.

Chase’s high voice pierced the questions gripping my mind like my hands holding the steering wheel.  photo 2 (1)“Mommy? Where are we?  This is not the road to my hospital.”  For this is how Chase tells direction.  There is the road that leads to his hospital and then there is every other road ever made.  I answered and assured him that this road was a good road and that it was the way to his new therapy – therapy that would help him grow strong.

Silence followed for a brief second as he processed what he’d heard.  Then; “But Mom, are we late?”

“No, Chase.  We aren’t late.  We are right on time.”

Another moment of silence, then his voice again, this time with anger, “But Mom, this isn’t the road and we’re late!”

Steeling myself for the familiar exercise of reasoning with the irrational; I responded: “Chase, this is the road and we are not late.”  I received nothing but an angry growl and the reiteration that I was in error.

How many times would I need to speak truth to him before he heard?  

Finally, this; “Chase, do you trust me?  I know this road and I can see the clock. I know where we’re going and I know that we’re not late.  You don’t know this road, but I do.  I’ve driven on it before and I know where it goes.  Chase, you’ll just have to trust me.”

The petulant retort; “Mom, I can’t trust you because I cannot see the road and I cannot see the clock.  You can; but I cannot.”  

Suddenly, his voice was mine….mine to my Creator who speaks truth to me and calms the questions and fears at every turn.  He tells me that even though I don’t know the road, He does.  He knows where it goes and what’s along the way.  He knows the timing of it and how it will take me to places that will be hard but will make me stronger.  And I sit, petulant child that I am, and question trusting Him because I don’t know what He knows and somehow, in my small heart and mind, that makes Him seem less good and my fears seem more justified.

In that moment, that silly short moment of driving across the city, in the child voice from the back seat, I was reminded how good He is to me and that I don’t have to know what lies ahead to trust and follow.

Moment by moment.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

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On Contentment

From my husband Bob (also posted on his Brevis blog) ~

Christians struggle with contentment.  I struggle with contentment.  I’m ambitious, driven, and competitive by nature, so I struggle to take time off or slow down, and am always looking for something better.  When I miss a goal, I mope; when I start a project, I’m already looking on to the next thing that I want to do.  I hate to get stuck in a rut.  These tendencies have led me to think about contentment, and being satisfied in Christ alone.

What is contentment?  Is contentment the opposite of ambition?  Can someone be ambitious and be content at the same time? How are joy and contentment related?  Can you make it a goal to be more content?  How does one practice contentment?

Contentment Defined
Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have.”  It seems like there is a link between money and contentment.  And, when I say there’s a link, I mean a reverse correlation: the more money you have, the less content you are.

John MacArthur goes so far as to say that most Americans don’t experience contentment because we are a rich society:

“Most Christians don’t experience it, obviously, to the degree that God desires us to. We tend to be a very discontent people. And I have this sort of personal theory that the more you have the more discontent you become. If that is true, then this must be one of the most discontent societies in the history of the human race. We are called to contentment. We are called to be satisfied. We are called to say I have enough. Most of us don’t experience that. Paul did. Paul was a satisfied man. He was a contented man.”

Jeremiah Burroughs defines contentment this way: “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

Sinclair Ferguson says that “contentment is the direct fruit of having no higher ambition than to belong to the Lord, at His disposal.”

The Opposite of Contentment
The opposite of contentment is covetousness.  When we desire something so much that we lose our contentment in God, we elevate that worldly object above God, and place it as an idol over him.  When we grumble to God that he hasn’t given us the perfect job, or the perfect family, we show ourselves to be discontent.

My study of contentment led me to a small study of covetousness.  In his sermon, “Battling the Unbelief of Covetousness,” John Piper states that “the opposite of covetousness is contentment in God.”

Have you ever found yourself wanting something other than what you have?  Have you looked at your neighbor’s house, and said to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have that house?”  Or, have you looked at your job and thought, “I really don’t like my job… if only I could be a _______, then I would be happy”?

Christians battle covetous thoughts every day, myself included.  There have been many times when I’ve thought that the grass might be greener on the other side of the causeway.  There have been times when I’ve gotten down on myself in each of the following things:

  • My job—could I be doing something that I enjoy more?
  • Living in a condo, instead of a house
  • Driving 10 year old cars, instead of 5 year old cars (or new cars)
  • My income
  • My kids (why on EARTH can’t they be well-behaved like the Bauer kids??)
  • My lifestyle
  • My physique (though there’s really nothing to complain about here… I’m pretty ripped J)
  • My wife

Practicing Contentment
The phrase “practicing contentment” seems a little bit ironic.  One can be discontent with their discontentedness, and then make a goal to practice being content more often.

Practically, how do Christians practice being content?  We live in the most discontent culture in the world, and we’re called to be content in the midst of it.  That’s kind of weird (see my past post about being Weird as Christians).  Here are a couple of lessons that I gleaned from different sources as I read about contentment (most of these summary points are from John MacArthur):

  1. Contentment begins with confidence in God’s providence – believe in God’s sovereign control.
  2. Contentment involves knowing your own heart.  John Ryle says, “Few know their own sin; few feel their desert; and so few are content with such things as they have. Humility, self-knowledge, a clear sight of our own utter vileness and corruption, these are the true roots of contentment.”
  3. Contentment has an element of satisfaction with little.
  4. Contentment is living independently from circumstances, not letting yourself be swayed by your circumstances.
  5. Contentment is being sustained by a divine power – you can be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to be more content.
  6. Contentment has an element of being concerned with the well-being of others.

May we all know contentment, and be able to echo Paul when he says in Philippians 4: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”