2 Corinthians 4:7-10 – 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
This verse has been burning in my soul this past week. I feel it is especially meaningful as I am in a season where I am struggling with contentment. I am questioning everything about my life. Am I working where I am supposed to work? Am I working too hard? Am I living in my full purpose? Am I spending my time wisely?
I know as a Christ follower I am called to be content where I am. Paul so elegantly models contentment in Philippians 4:11-12 – “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Contentment. To be satisfied with my daily portion while still hoping for the fullness of God’s blessings. To be happy about my place in the world while seeking out opportunities to reach out to people. To demonstrate love in even the most impossible circumstances. To know that no matter what happens God is in control of all things. To believe that God will work all circumstances, even the hard and distressing ones, for our good and His glory. To not have a desire for extravagance simply for pride and prestige sake.
But how do we have contentment when there is a spiritual battle waging in our soul? How do we surrender to peace when things look impossible to our human eyes? How do we trust all to God when unfair and unreasonable things come at and attack us?
It isn’t always easy to “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13). Our faith gets stretched. Our contentment gets challenged. Our commitment gets questioned. Do we stand firm, or do we waver? Do we believe, or do we question? What is true? What is right?
Yet 2 Corinthians 4:10 says we have the power of Jesus in us to sustain us, propel us, keep us, and protect us. Because though we are challenged and wrongfully engaged, we are “not crushed”. We are not so flat or so broken that God cannot restore and heal us. Though we are accused and slandered, we are “not forsaken”. God does not abandon us or leave us to fight alone. God walks with us into the fight and stands with us until the battle’s end. Though we are knocked down and pushed around, we are “not destroyed”. We are able to get back up and continue to fight. We have prayer, the power of God, and the compassion of friends to help us up and keep us going. We may be devastated in the moment, but that moment isn’t the end or undoing of our faith journey.
And why? Because God is with us, for us, and in us.
- Romans 8:35,38-39 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake
- Deuteronomy 31:8 – And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.
- Joshua 1:5,9 – No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. … Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
- Psalm 9:10 – And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
- Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
So let yourself live and feel beyond the moment to find His peace, joy, and security. For though there are rough moments, they do not have to confine you. They can define and refine you.
And as for me? I will continue to question and to wonder. Yet through it all, I will live as Hebrews 13:5 commands – “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” I will believe I am where I am supposed to be in this season. And I will thank Him for every opportunity, every lesson, every miracle, and every good thing. I will learn from every hard, difficult, and impossible moment, hopefully thanking Him for refining and polishing me. I will do my best to make the most of my influence and be gracious and encouraging. I will live fully and freely in the season.
And if the season is only temporary, I will trust God to help me know when the season is over. And when it is, I will trust Him show me His open doors and new opportunities.
And through it all, I will try to be like Paul and be content. For to be content is to believe that no matter what we go through and what happens to us that God is with us. To be content is to be thankful for His unfailing love and amazing grace that covers a multitude of sins and bad choices. To be content is to know that we are forever in His loving embrace.
So though I am jostled, challenged, alienated, pressed in, tripped up, overlooked, and unappreciated, I am loved. I am cherished. I am cared for. And in this I can be content. God, help me to believe this and carry it with me every step of my journey and every moment of my life. AMEN!
Marie Fremin. 3/17 and 4/2/16.