Believing God for His Best: How to Experience Contentment
- Thursday, December 09, 2004
In order to experience contentment, we must learn to delight in the Lord and repent of anything that is hindering a flourishing relationship with God. A verse that may seem far away and inapplicable from us is Isaiah 48:22, which states, "There is no peace for the wicked."
You say, "Yes, that is right; they do not deserve peace and contentment." But let me ask you one question, "What is more wicked than telling God that He cannot rule over an area of your life?" To do so is to spurn His great gift of peace and contentment. In the testimony of my own courtship, I related how God convicted me of idolatry. In this case I sensed that God was directing me to end my relationship. In this case it was also resurrected some years later.
What do you do when you long for another person? Remember that it is not a sin to be tempted (Hebrews 4:15). First of all, you can thank God for your normal desire. It is natural to long for companionship and intimacy. In order to not let this longing take your thoughts in the wrong direction, bring your thoughts in the light to God and share them with Him. Reaffirm the truth of His knowledge of your needs and desires and of His loving care for you. Be honest in your conversation with Him. Trust Him to fulfill your desires in His righteous ways and perfect timing (John 7:37-39). In order not to unduly live in the future, ask Him also to make the most of your singleness for His glory. As Jim Elliot said, "Wherever you are, be all there."1
The Fruitfulness of Contentment
How does God desire to use you as you wait on Him for His person, timing, and will in marriage? Does He desire you to be an integral part of reviving His church? Do you long to see His manifested presence among His people, actively at work convicting the lost and drawing men and women to Himself as well as guiding and directing His people? Ask God to use you to be a vessel to restore His church to experience His presence. God's loving discipline often takes the form of Him withdrawing His manifested presence in the same way that His glory departed from the temple in the Old Testament. To be sure, the Holy Spirit who indwells every Christian will never leave, but His presence can be grieved and quenched and, therefore, God's name is not adored and honored as it should be. How does God desire to use you? We all have different roles, but each of us is an important and vital part of God's overall plan.
A single person is not only freer to pursue his or her vocation but also to develop friendships. The physical and emotional energy that would be expended in marriage can be channeled into relationships with other single people, married couples and families, and even children. All have a need to love and be loved, and God is able to meet this need even in our "dark moments."
As you respond to the Lord in your single years, you are not only giving yourself the best preparation for marriage but also building a spiritual heritage for future generations. Fanny Crosby was given a wrong medical treatment at six weeks of age that resulted in permanent blindness. As a child she made up her mind to store in her heart what she called the "little jewel of contentment." She declared this jewel to be the "comfort of her life." When she was eight years old she wrote:
O what a happy soul am I!
Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world
Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don't.
To weep and sigh because I'm blind;
I cannot, and I won't.
Scores of people have been blessed through the legacy of hymns she has left the church, and millions have been blessed by her learning the lesson of contentment in God's sovereign will.
Fanny Crosby married Alexander Van Alstyne when she was thirty-eight. This dear couple experienced a great loss when their only child died at a very young age. In her grief she penned the hymn "Safe in the Arms of Jesus." A ministry borne out of a humble and contented heart bears great fruit.
A carriage driver discovered her as his passenger one day and told her as he wept how they had sung "Safe in the Arms of Jesus" at his little girl's funeral the previous week. Even more amazing is the testimony of seven prisoners of war who were singled out to be killed by firing squad. As the day of their death arrived, one of the prisoners began to sing "Safe in the Arms of Jesus," a song he had learned three weeks earlier. As he sung, one of the other prisoners dropped to his knees and began to pray. Then all seven began to sing! The officer was so impressed with the prisoners' contentment and courage as they faced death that he trusted Christ as his Savior that very hour. Only God can tell what comes from a life that allows Him to put His contentment inside the soul.
From "Believing God for His Best." © 2004 by Bill Thrasher. Used by permission Moody Press. All rights reserved.
Bill Thrasher is a professor Bible and Theology in the graduate school of the Moody Bible Institute. He and his wife, Penny, live in Wheaton. Bill is the author of "A Journey to Victorious Praying" and "Living the Life God Has Planned."
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