With Thanksgiving coming up I’ve been more aware of all the things I’m thankful for. I believe what Joanna Gaines said is true, “Gratitude makes what you have enough” (Magnolia Magazine). The happiest, most contented people I know aren’t necessarily wealthy, successful, or famous. They just appreciate what they have; they savor. And I think that’s the key. I also know contentment doesn’t come naturally; it takes practice.
Paul said he learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Phil. 4:11), which implies he wasn’t always that way. When I read C.S. Lewis’ book Perelandra in college, I was struggling with food addiction—alternately binging and starving; trying to hide my problem; and full of shame and self-loathing. So when I read the following words in chapter five I knew it was what I wanted.
Ransom, the main character of the book, hasn’t been on the planet very long when he tastes Perelandra’s fruit for the first time:
“He let the empty gourd fall from his hand and was about to pluck a second one, it came into his head that he was now neither hungry nor thirsty. And yet to repeat a pleasure so intense and almost so spiritual seemed an obvious thing to do. His reason, or what we commonly take to be reason in our own world, was all in favour of tasting this miracle again…Yet something seemed opposed to this 'reason'. It is difficult to suppose that this opposition came from desire, for what desire would turn from so much deliciousness? But for whatever cause, it appeared to him better not to taste again. Perhaps the experience had been so complete that repetition would be a vulgarity—like asking to hear the same symphony twice in a day.”
Resisting the urge to reach for more? That’s almost unheard of. Voices call to us from everywhere to—eat more, buy more, do more, want more. The voices echo our sin nature. We attempt to fill the insatiable hollowness within, ending up emptier than ever. Until we discover that only God can fill the aching void and give us contentment independent of circumstances.
That doesn’t mean we don’t pursue success and strive to better ourselves, but not at the expense of the moment. That’s what I want to learn—how to be in the moment, with the person I’m with, with the stuff that I have—and not reach for more. Just savor.
This can even apply to waiting in line at the store (which some of you will be doing on Black Friday), driving a less than perfect car, during tedious moments at work or home, when kids are whiny and demanding, and when everyone else seems to have more of what you want. How did Paul learn to be content in moments like that?
He never married, didn’t have children; was shipwrecked, starved, beaten, rejected; and he was unappreciated and abandoned by other believers. Yet he said he was content.
When I’m feeling dissatisfied and empty, I look at his life and others who are content and note these commonalities: Jesus and praise and the knowledge that this is not our forever home. What we have here is only temporary. So we taste, we savor, and rest in the knowledge that with Jesus, what we have is always enough.
#Thanksgiving #gratitude #havingenough #secretofcontentment #Phil4:11