2020 has been a year of craziness with covid 19, closings, riots, derecho, and the list continues.
It is easy to want to skip ahead and leave all this behind. But what if experiencing the bad helps us appreciate the good? Can we be content with our present circumstances?
I personally don't like hard times, yet I grow a lot during these times.
I recently read this poem online written by fourteen-year-old Jason Lehman, and it beautifully describes wanting something else besides the present.
"It was spring, but it was summer I wanted, The warm days, and the great outdoors.
It was summer, but it was fall I wanted, The colorful leaves, and the cool, dry air.
It was fall, but it was winter I wanted, The beautiful snow, and the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, but it was spring I wanted, The warmth and the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, but it was adulthood I wanted, The freedom and respect.
I was 20, but it was 30 I wanted, To be mature, and sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, but it was 20 I wanted, The youth and the free spirit.
I was retired, but it was middle-age I wanted, The presence of mind without limitations.
My life was over, and I never got what I wanted."
What is the secret to contentment?
Adjusting my ATTITUDE verses my CIRCUMSTANCES.
I can not always change my circumstances, but I can control my attitude. Having a positive attitude is a CHOICE and requires focusing on the good and not the bad.
As Christians, Christ is our constant, and contentment comes from focusing on Him. No matter what life throws at us, Christ walks with us.
We focus on Christ by spending time with Him by reading our Bibles, praying, and mediating on Scripture. We put off the negative thoughts and put on the positive thoughts (Philippians 4:8).
"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything THROUGH CHRIST, who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13 NLT
Paul penned these words while in prison. He learned contentment by fixing his mind on Christ verses his circumstances. The same is true for us.
I wanted to end with a true story about a little slave girl that practiced this principle. (adapted from "The Little Slave Girl of Madagascar" by Grace W. McGarvan)
One day rough men kidnapped a pretty young girl named Birdling from her home village in Madagascar. She shook with sobs until the men threatened to whip her. Filled with fear, she stopped and set her mind to think on pleasant things.
The men sold her as a slave to a rich woman.
Birdling worked hard and didn't complain. When Birdling finished her work, she slipped away to read her only book-the New Testament, which gave her great comfort.
The rich woman discovered her reading and asked what she was reading. Birdling shared about Christ's love and the woman desired it too. She now knew Birdling's secret source of a positive attitude and contentment - Christ.
Eventually, the rich woman freed Birdling, and they shared the good news with others until a church was formed.
Birdling's circumstances were difficult, but she chose a good attitude by focusing on Christ. We can do the same.
As we finish 2020 and start 2021, or just live the craziness of life, may we adjust our attitudes and find contentment in Christ alone.