Wednesday, December 16, 2015

An uncomfortable contentment

A friend of mine has posted a series of photos on Facebook of homeless people, refugees, distressed people, troubled lives. They are disturbing and I know he meant them to disturb our self-focused lives.

When we see what others struggle with it should make us uncomfortable with our easy lives and lack of contentment in all we have.  The luxury of excess often makes us numb to the pain of lack.

Paul tells us in Philippians to be content. It's not a contentment of comfort, but a contentment with God's provision whether little or much.  And yet, around me and in me is a culture of discontent cultivated by the advertising industry that tells us we "need" the new, best, most advance whatever.  It breeds a subtle discontent with excess.  Sad, isn't it?

Often, when I'm able to travel to a third world country I feel ashamed and embarrassed by all I have.  It makes me wish for a contentment in God alone apart from the things around me and yet it's so elusive because our flesh tingles with the thought of something new....something no one really needs, but if we had it we would be "happy."

My friend has reminded me that the excess we enjoy is not the norm and we should be uncomfortable with it.  To have a car, a home, socks without holes, food on the table and a refrigerator to put it in are excesses most of the world does not know.  But we take it all for granted.

I pray for an uncomfortable contentment that makes me ever thankful for what God has provided, but uncomfortable with having it when others have nothing.  Lord, help me to see the things I have as simple gifts to use for your glory and not trinkets to hoard for my own pleasure.

Years ago I remember Dr. Henry Brandt say, "My goal in life is not to get to the end of it and compare my pile of ashes to your pile of ashes."  

May we live with an uncomfortable contentment that glorifies God.

Philippians 4  "I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am."   (THE MESSAGE)

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