If it were up to us, God would resolve our difficulties in ways that produce the highest good for us—as we count goodness—in the shortest amount of time.
Instead, God uses our trials to produce the highest good for more than just us—as he counts goodness—no matter how long it takes.
In the interim, he provides the means for us to be truly content, independent of our circumstances.
God’s Contentment In Us
True contentment is the manifestation of God’s contentment in us.
God is utterly content by nature. Among other qualities, his essence is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Each of these attributes is an aspect of his perfect contentment. In aggregate, they constitute true contentment.
God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, takes up residence in us when we are reborn spiritually. As we walk in harmony with him, he manifests in us the aspects of his nature that comprise true contentment.
True contentment is thus a function of our relationship with God, rather than our circumstances. We can experience it in any situation.
The more diligently we cultivate our relationship with God and walk in harmony with him, the more consistently we experience and emit his natural contentment.
A person who senses and exudes God’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, in every circumstance, is truly content.
True Contentment And Faith
True contentment begins with faith in God.
During distress, we demonstrate this faith by choosing to believe what God has revealed about himself through nature and in the Bible, rather than what we might infer about him from our adversity.
We set aside the doubts about God raised by affliction and proceed under the assumption that he is good, his ideas and methods are superior to ours, and his love is unfailing.
We presume that he will come to our aid as promised.
True Contentment And Communion
We experience true contentment during distress by increasing the quality and frequency of our communion with God.
We spend time alone worshipping him, reading what he has already said in the Bible, and intentionally engaging him during the day through prayer.
The more intense our difficulty, the more frequently we may need to commune with God to experience and emit his natural contentment.
True Contentment And The Bible
Communion with God requires a correct understanding of who he is, who we are, and why we suffer.
The Bible describes these things accurately, which is why cultivating true contentment requires us to study it.
However, stepping away to read the Bible every time we feel distressed is impractical. The solution is to memorize the verses we find meaningful.
Meditating on our favorite Bible verses refreshes our perception of God and helps us commune with him, especially amid affliction.
True Contentment And Prayer
Prayer is essential to communion with God, which makes it vital to experiencing true contentment.
Jesus gave us the template for prayers that embody communion. His example is commonly called The Lord’s Prayer.
Jesus said that during times of need, our prayers should include the thoughts he expressed in his prayer.
- Our father in heaven – We are speaking to the Creator of the world; we are all equal before him.
- Hallowed be your name – God is majestic and holy.
- Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven – God is sovereign over all; our will is subordinate to his.
- Give us this day our daily bread – We ask God to provide for us and those in our orbit.
- Forgive us our debts – We confess our sins to God, acknowledge his complete forgiveness, and ask him to be also merciful to others.
- As we also have forgiven our debtors – We extend mercy and grace to those who have hurt us because God extends mercy and grace to us.
- And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one – We ask God for moral strength and protection.
We do not need to articulate every item in The Lord’s Prayer each time we pray. However, when we set aside time to commune with God, our prayers should include these concepts, expressed in our own words.
True Contentment And Obedience
Anything that disrupts or dilutes our communion with God impedes our access to true contentment. This includes personal unrighteousness.
Experiencing God’s natural contentment requires us to do our best to abide by the principles and precepts he presents in the Bible.
God knows we are imperfect in this regard. He does not deem us unworthy of further communion when we sin.
However, each time we sin—in either our heart or behavior—we must realign ourselves with God morally to restore our communion with him and thereby regain access to his natural contentment.
We restore our alignment with God by confessing our transgressions to him, accepting his forgiveness, asking him to help us live righteously, and resuming our effort to walk in harmony with him.
Quiet Confidence Not Bliss
True contentment does not always translate into bliss.
We can be truly content and still suffer pain and sorrow. We can still feel the pang of unmet wants and needs. We may still struggle with the aftereffects of our past.
In tough times, true contentment is a quiet, patient confidence that God will fulfill his promise of aid. It feels like rest.
We rest in the knowledge that God exists, he is present with us, he sees our plight, he cares about us, he has the resources to help us, and he has obligated himself to help us.
We persevere through our affliction with the assurance that God is good, he is in control of our circumstances, and he has made preparations for our future, whatever it may be.
We press on, knowing that God will supplement our innate resilience with his natural contentment, generate goodness from our suffering, and resolve our situation according to his will.
God Is Enough
Only God can produce true contentment in us.
Nothing else can simulate his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control amid affliction.
This truth becomes apparent when the temporal things we value are diminished or lost, and we look to God for help.
Just as the dark of night allows us to see features of the moon we would otherwise miss if the sun was always shining, the dark periods of life help us understand aspects of God’s excellence we would never comprehend if life were always easy.
As we walk in harmony with God amid affliction, we learn, at increasingly deeper levels, that he is always good, his ideas and methods are always superior to ours, and his love for us is indeed unfailing.
We realize that God is indeed who he claims to be—our refuge, our comforter, our redeemer, our deliverer, and our friend. We affirm that he is the sole source of true contentment.
Not until God is all we have, do we truly understand that he is all we need.