To be content, we need to praise God in all circumstances
God is always looking out for our good. Knowing this about God is essential for us during our times of trial, when some things don't make sense. God is more concerned about transforming us into the image of his Son than he is about how it will temporarily affect us.
The apostle Paul was beaten, imprisoned, stoned, and shipwrecked. Still, in prison chains, he wrote to the church that he was content no matter his circumstances. He tells us to be content in our circumstances, not thankful for our circumstances. When things go wrong, what can we praise God for? We can praise him for who he is. Our circumstances do not diminish his character. He never becomes less than he is.
If we just start praising him, as David did in the Psalms, we will be reminded of other reasons he is worthy of praise. Satan is the only one who doesn't want us to praise God, so he will continually try to get our focus off the Lord. Satan loves it when we focus on what we don't have, what God hasn't done for us, or how God has seemingly let us down. Satan is the original killjoy.
Too often we praise God only when we feel like praising him. Offering God praise has nothing to do with our feelings. Instead, when we are going through a difficult time, our praise becomes a sacrifice to him.
Charles Swindoll says that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to what happens to you. We act as if it's the other way around. The apostle Paul encourages us to rejoice in the Lord always. That is much different from rejoicing in what is going on with us. If Solomon had told us to rejoice, we might have a problem with that. After all, wasn't Solomon the richest man around? But Paul was talking to us with chains on.
To be content, we have to kill the dragons of comparison
I have started challenging myself lately. When I see a status on a newsfeed that ruffles my feathers, I ask God to help me to pray for that person. It makes things easier when I'm honest with God, telling him how I feel. He knows anyway. Then, I begin to praise him.
Try singing to the Lord. When my heart is singing, whether I'm on key or not, my mind moves off of myself. I sing old hymns, such as "Jesus Never Fails" and "How Great Thou Art," because they are loaded with truths about the Lord. A couple of lines into a hymn and I find that I no longer wonder when I'm going to get the thing I'm working toward, but instead am thinking about God and all the wonderful things he has done.
Contentment is attainable, but first we must kill the dragons of comparison. And they will die as long as we keep our eyes focused on the King of Kings, the only one worth looking at.
The stick I made for measuring
I used most every day.
It helped me to compare myself
with others on my way.
I watched all those behind me,
or further down the road,
and I would readjust my pace
or lighten up my load.
The only real drawback
with how I ran my race
was watching everything around,
except my Savior's face.
Anne Peterson is a freelance author, poet, and speaker. To read Anne's blog or to engage her as a speaker, go to http://annepeterson.com/.
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