Katie writes for us today about how to be a girl who is content: able to enjoy God's blessings and give thanks regardless of circumstance. This post is an absolute treasure trove of truth and gives us the key to real contentment. I for one am in great need of this post! Day 4 of Every Day Counts...
There is a quote I have up on my bedroom wall. It reads:
"True contentment is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it." (G.H. Chesterton).
I am often challenged by the word "content". In many ways it is absent from our culture today. We don't have to look far to see constant streams of advertising attempting to convince us we are in need of something: the latest phone; this season's fashion staple; an even better coffee machine; even offering far superior shower gel!
But as followers of Jesus we are called to be content. Paul writes in Philippians 4:11:
"I have learned to be content with whatever I have."
So how do we find contentment in this fast-paced never-satisfied world? And how do we recognise feelings of discontentment in our lives?
I have noticed discontentment in my own life when I have fixated on what I don't have. Maybe a friend is particularly talented at something I've never been able to do, or has an amazing holiday booked that I couldn't afford, and I end up focusing on the fact I don't have those things. As someone who is single, if I am convinced that a boyfriend is what I need to fulfill me, then focusing on the absence of one leads to discontentment with the phase of life in which God has placed me now.
If we are always looking to the next thing (longing for the holidays when we still have weeks of term), or believe we have things missing in our lives, the grass will always be greener somewhere else, and we will never be content.
Fixating on what we don't have steals joy and causes missed opportunities. It means we cannot celebrate in other people's blessings, or get the full potential out of our own.
Taking a look at the areas we feel discontent shows us that at the root, it is about where we fix our gaze. Returning to Paul in Philippians 4, he goes on to say: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Ultimately, Paul is content because it is Christ who is his source and his focus. He is not looking to material things, or even other people, to satisfy his needs.
Paul is drawing from the well that never runs dry, he is resting on an eternal foundation, and he is loving the one who never fails. Paul faced death, prison, rejection, persecution, beatings and ship wreck, yet he was still able to say that in Christ he was fully satisfied.
So fixing our gaze on Jesus, and not on the things we do not have, is part of living as girls who are content. Alongside refocusing our gaze, the key to contentment is a thankful heart. Thankfulness acknowledges that everything good we have comes from the most gracious and generous giver.
"Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow." (James 1:17)
We can see that the Giver is a loving Father who never changes, and who holds creation in His hands. The One who showers good things on us is a loving Saviour with a good plan for our lives, who know what is best for us. When we fix our eyes on Him, we can be secure.
From praise and thankfulness for what we have been given and for where God has placed us, rises joy and contentment. We will have a restful and joyful heart that appreciates even the smallest gestures of kindness, and we will not miss all there is to get out of the situation we are in right now.
Staying thankful is a choice, and having a practical demonstration of that helps keep us focused and praising! Paul said that he "learned to be content". This suggest it was a process over time, a series of small choices every day that helped form a heart of contentment. So let's all make a Thank You Jar!
Find a box, or a jam jar, and cut up some bits of paper. At the start and end of every day this lent, write something you are thankful for and place it in the jar. On Easter Sunday we get the joy of opening up and seeing all the blessing God has showered on us over 40 days!
Originally from Essex, but newly a resident of Ipswich, Katie is spending this year working at a school in Buckinghamshire. She loves adventure and dreaming big - with God all things are possible! Katie is passionate about working with girls and being rooted in identity in Christ. She is daily overwhelmed and thankful for the people God has put in her life.