I have to say I am so thankful for the people that have been placed in my life. God has brought such a wide variety of people into my life and I have learned (and continue to learn) life lessons from each one.
My small group talked about contentment this past week and so I have been pondering what true contentment is.
What I've decided is that contentment is the secret ingredient to joy. Happiness is based on surroundings and situations. Happiness can grow and wane with life, but joy is constant! Joy is based on something so much more solid than situations and experiences. Joy is based solely on our choice to be content no matter what the situation. Joy is completely up to us! How great is that? We can choose to be content or discontented! I am thrilled with that realization. Discontentment isn't a mysterious cloud that hovers over us at some unforeseen moment, that stays for an undetermined amount of time of which we have no control over....... it is a choice. We have the power to bring all of our thoughts under the submission of the Word of God! YIPPEE!! That is something to shout about!
I have the privilege of being the daughter of some wonderful parents. My dad had a stroke ten years ago that changed everything. It changed his situation, his job, his abilities, his speech and for a short time even the definition of himself. There was opportunity for sadness and depression to take over, but I watched my parents choose joy at every turn. Listen I'm not saying it was easy, you see things don't have to be easy for you to be joyful. That easy breezy happiness is just that, happiness. It can fade into sadness, and that happens from time to time to all of us. What we have realize is that we can still have the unspeakable joy that can only come from Christ.
I also have an Aunt & Uncle that I look up to a lot. They have had some serious things thrown at them that are not easy to think about or deal with, but they sure have dealt with it all through the power that God gives. They have managed to continue through life with joy. How is it possible to live a joyful life when the losses you have suffered bring you to your knees? The only way to live in joy is to choose to live in joy, and that they do! I am so proud to have them in my life. Their example is a testimony to the greatness of God!
Sometimes we get so caught up in our own life and concerns and we let our emotions get the better of us. Emotions are fickle things and they just listen to the loudest voice. If the loudest voice is telling us we're a failure and that things will never get better, our emotions respond. Boy do they respond!! But if the loudest voice is saying the words of Psalms 30:11-12,"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!" that is when true joy is at work in your life.
I know that a pitfall for ladies that are in my situation as a stay-home/homeschool mom we can get stuck in the rut of what we do, and our emotions will get going a little crazy. My husband is in the army and travels a lot. We have had a lot of family milestones, illnesses, surgeries, and traumatic events while he was away. My emotions tell me that I need to be angry, pout, stomp, cry, and pitch a fit....but what I know to be true is that it is important for us to choose joy no matter what situation we find ourselves in. I also know that discontentment isn't something that stay-home/homeschool moms have a corner on the market in. Discontentment is fed to us everyday. It is built into TV shows, billboards, TV ads, and infomercials. Discontentment can sneak into our lives and take over before we have ever realized it arrived! We must guard our contentment! (Quote from our Lifeway Facebook Page) What a true statement! Everyday that we are awake and alive is a chance for us to make a difference! That is exciting! God has designed us with a purpose and we get the honor and privilege of fulfilling it! That is something to be joyful about!
The bottom line is this.....it is easy to be joyful when you realize that the key ingredient is contentment.
Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) sums it up this way, "Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything, I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."
So when life throws some unpleasantness at you (and it will) and you find yourself struggling (and you will) dig into the Word of God. It holds the key to contentment. It is only then that discontentment will be displaced and you will find true joy in its place!!