I never thought of contentment as a thing that takes courage, until it became increasingly hard to grasp.
Last year my family and I moved into an older home. We were also moving cities, and in the current market, we didn’t have a lot of choices. Things began to get stressful as the closing sale date on our current home drew near and we still had no plan. We chose this old house for one reason: it’s the home that became available to us.
There were some romantic things about it, at first: like the piano that was included in the purchase, the big backyard for the kids to play in, and the arched walkway by the dining room. But the longer we’ve lived here, the more problems have become apparent.
Like windows that are so old they actually don’t open. And plumbing that’s definitely on its last legs. A basement that accounts for half the square footage of the house, but isn’t really usable for anything but storage. And the fact that there’s only one bathroom – for a family of six.
Because we homeschool, I’m home a lot. Every day I feel a battle warring in my brain. Sometimes the battle to look down wins, and I look down and grumble at the dirt that’s accumulated between the baseboards and the wood floors that have settled over the years. Try as I might, I can’t win the battle with grime that’s been there, in all likelihood, since before I was born.
You know, when it comes to old houses, I believe dirt actually comes up from underneath, just to spite me!
But on those days when I look down, I can hear the Lord calling me to look up.
Look up, He says, and remember that I called you and chose you to be part of this community.
Look up, He says, and remember that I provided a house when you were days from having nowhere to go.
Look up, He says, and see the screened-in porch that doubles as a playroom.
Look up, He says, and see the garden that could be, in time.
It’s been so easy to think of all the buts when it comes to this house. Sure, having an older home is fun, but it would be nice to have more than one bathroom! And I like living in a small town, but we are just so far from everything.
But when I let the Lord turn those buts around, I see how much I have to be thankful for.
Two bathrooms would be great, but at least we have indoor plumbing. And yes, we are far from everything, but the Lord always provides a way for us to have what we need.
As I write this, I’m making a pledge to remember this instruction from God’s Word: “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:6-8, NIV).
If Paul, who was beaten and taken to prison and put in chains for the gospel, can be content with the life God gave him, then I can, too.
This kind of contentment takes courage, because it’s giving up the idea that circumstances will change, or that they need to change for me to be happy. It’s saying, even if I live in this so-many-things-wrong-with-it-house till the day I die, I will trust You, oh Lord. It’s saying, even if I don’t get this job or that opportunity, or even if this friendship fizzles out or my marriage just takes work, I will trust You, Jesus.
God always knows what’s best for us. Anything He asks, He asks with our best interests at heart. If contentment is something He’s called us to do, then it must be worth the courage it takes to pursue it.