You open your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them. – Psalm 145:16, 18-19
Godliness with Contentment Is Great Gain – 1 Timothy 6:6
A summer day in a good book can change the course of your life…at least, your mind’s course in life. That morning, I was sleeping in a bit while our two-year-old slept on in her bed upstairs. Mine was a fitful sleep sorting through the conversation Dave and I had had the night before. Weeks away from having our second child, the CEO of our medical center had given me the opportunity of a lifetime. He offered me the directorship of the cancer center of our hospital. My husband and I had already made the decision together months before that I would stay home with our children. Having continued to work for the first two years of my daughter’s life, I was excited to dig into this new season of life. Then…the offer of an altogether different job…
Our conversation that night didn’t go well. How could I argue for a job that would take me away from our children not just during the day but into the night with other responsibilities pulling at my attention? The children are grown now, and I was with them growing up, but in those days, cancer nursing was my professional world with all that went with that. Purpose, capability, accomplishment…it was deeply rewarding and gratifying work. Mothering was still so foreign to me. Being a stay-at-home mom was a whole other life and I was afraid of it, really.
That morning, I came wide-awake, when Dave touched my arm. He was dressed and ready to leave, but he had a book in his hand. He asked me to read the chapter he marked in it, then he kissed me bye for the day, and was out the door.
It was Jerry Bridges’ book The Practice of Godliness. The place marked was a chapter on contentment. Bulls-eye! Right on the strained condition of my heart. On that sunny summer day, reading that chapter, the Lord helped me wrestle through the struggle of discontent and the idols that separated me from peace with God.
[Sidebar: This has nothing to do with whether a woman should work or stay-at-home with children. My circumstances allowed me a choice in that. We as a couple, he and I together, decided that this is what we wanted and could make happen for our family. It is possible I could have become the director, hired a nanny and a good administrative assistant, and still be on a Godly course in life…but I knew deep down that the struggle was a heart issue and a faith issue.]
Discontent was my problem and it would become my family’s, if I didn’t deal with it. Jerry Bridges wrote, “In all of the areas in which we are called upon to be content – whether possession, position, or the providence of God – the grace of God is the ultimate solution for our discontent.”
I didn’t take that position, but stayed with the job of stay-at-home Mom. It was one of the most challenging, glorious undertakings of my life. I am glad that Dave had the love and the courage to speak truth to me through that book that day. Cancer nursing is still a great love of mine, and my colleagues of those days are still heroes of mine. Still, having had these years with my children growing up, me with them, has been so much more valuable to me than the “what would have been.” I learned to be content in that and still have all kinds of impulses through life to remind me that content is where I want to stay.
Contentment is a destination. It applies to whatever situation we find ourselves. Satisfaction, as an experience somewhat different than contentment, is a journey. Beth Moore, in Living Free, talks about a soul hunger in all of us, created by God. She says, “The most obvious symptom of a soul in need of God’s satisfaction is a sense of inner emptiness. The awareness of a hollow place somewhere deep inside – the inability to be satisfied – ought to be a flashing caution light to every believer.”
We are meant to find our satisfaction not in possessions or position or even the providence of God*, but in God Himself. When we try to satisfy our longings in anything but Him, the emptiness continues to gnaw at us. The search for something, besides Him, to fill that void is never satisfied. A friend of mine shared with me just today how satisfaction is to contentment as joy is to happiness. It’s mining the deep riches of the Person of God. The more we know Him, the more we want to know Him. He fills us completely. He satisfies our souls. We don’t have to “chase after the wind” or try to “feed on ashes“. In times of spiritual hunger or thirst, it is God Himself who satisfies. Nothing else is ever enough.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:11-13