November 21, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 356: Giver of Contentment

Giver of Contentment

"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 all this through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4:11b, 12, 13 NIV)

“You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:14, 15, 17 NIV)

One of my all-time favorite quotes—in a "gotcha" sort of way—is this one from Theodore Roosevelt: "comparison is the thief of joy."

I don't think I've ever once allowed comparison to break into my mental house and not had it walk out the front door with an armful of my joy.

But I would add this: comparison is also the thief of contentment.

To be content is to be settled, at rest, at peace with what I have and with my situation in life. It is a ceasing of straining for something more or something else. It is looking at what I have and being grateful for it.

Comparison, on the other hand, drags my gaze away from what God has given me and locks it on what He has given someone else. From there, I assign greater value to what someone else has and start to want it. I fixate on it and think about how to get it and determine I am incomplete without it.

Cue covetousness...the "shall not" of the 10th Commandment.

From there, comparison and covetousness work together as a team, leading me to take what is not mine (which is the heart of the 7th and 8th commandments, forbidding, respectively, adultery and stealing).

The thief that is comparison is always looking for an open window he can climb in and steal my contentment and my joy. But prayer, thanksgiving, and worship are guards. These guards work because they avail me of the "secret" the apostle Paul "learned" (I love the process and effort conveyed by that word) about how to be content "in any and every situation": the strength of Jesus.

The thief whose name is comparison whispers, "Look...look over there. See what they have that you don't? See who they are that you're not?"

But prayer, thanksgiving, and worship tune me into the voice of Jesus, and I hear Him say, "Eyes on me, beloved. Eyes on me. My joy is your strength, and my strength is your contentment, and there is no comparison to these."

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year-old that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!