Friday, October 29, 2010

Are You Content?

I know very few people whom I would call 'content.' At least, content according to Jeremiah Burroughs' definition from back in 1648:

"Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition." Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

People ask me all the time, "so, Chris, how are you doing?" And the expression on their face and tone of voice tells me that
they really mean it and are sincerely concerned for me, which I appreciate so much. I usually don't know how to answer sincerely, since the short, insincere answer that we all give on Sundays and in the grocery store, "good, good" just doesn't work for me. But anything more complete and sincere is too long and self-centered.

But being asked so often does make me look at myself and how I'm 'doing' more than usual. And I can say with all sincerity that I'm doing pretty ok! The kids aren't starving, the house is pretty well kept up, the dogs are happy, etc. But of course, when people ask me how I'm doing they aren't really wanting to know about my mad cooking skillz or the functionality of the puppies' bowels. They are wondering about my feelings, that is, how am I doing without Janie? Answer: pretty ok! I miss her terribly, but, yeah, pretty ok. Which leads me back to contentment.

The thing is, I want to see how living the rest of my life without Janie can dovetail with Jeremiah Burroughs' (Janie called him 'Jerry' for short haha) definition of contentment. How can I be content without Janie? That's the question, right? I feel like I have recently been learning about this somewhat through some rather taxing, non-cancer or 'loss' related stuff. I feel like I have actually been starting to see better how to be more content with the life that God has laid out for me. Or, as Jerry put it, how to "delight in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition." I really do *sometimes* sense in myself "that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit." Sometimes anyway...

Paul says there is a secret to contentment: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11-13

And "him who gives strength" is Jesus. Jesus gives the strength for contentment in all circumstances. 

Sounds so simple, right? Then why is it so hard to live out?


  1. I didn't even read what you said, yet, but I just have to say thank you for the frog!! I have a thing for frogs, you know...
    ok, and the rest was quite wonderful, too. It's always nice to hears news, and yes "how you're doing" from across the country. Thanks again for the inspirations.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I have been hearing different things (like chapel, devos, etc) on contentment. This was an additional reminder to me of Philippians 4:11-13-thank you.

  3. the secret of contentment... hmmm. Clearly its not about the puppies bowel movements :DDDD that was just too descriptive and funny to pass up. But the big brother "Apostle Paul" does refer to it as a 'secret' and so it clearly is something to be found by the 'seeking desiring follower of Jesus Christ'.
    Thanks for this challenging post, brother.

  4. Carol: I'm glad you liked the froggie...I like frogs too...tastes like chicken! Just kidding and that was mean and I take it back......

    Mark: I'd be super interested to hear your thoughts on contentment....maybe at our 9:30 'lunch.'

    Becky: I've found that when I keep hearing the same thing over and over, especially from different 'random' places....I should sit up and take extra keen notice...God is often trying to speak to me through these things....

    Tim: I remember being really affected as a teen by a sermon by my pastor at the time, Phil Gammon. He was so enthused at having, along with Paul, "found the secret!" I can still hear his voice.....kind of cool that your and my posts about contentment came along at the same time.......