A week ago, I sat in my daughter’s room, rocking her slowly, enjoying the precious snuggles and the smell of her soft hair as the wisps tickled my nose. I was tired, having just raced a half marathon that morning, and my body was aching and fatigued. The race hadn’t gone well, and I was feeling down because of it. But holding my girl gave me a moment of bliss. She had just fallen asleep against my chest, and I relished the sweet warmth and comfort of her. I was utterly content.
Then with a lurch, she opened her eyes and threw up all over me.
That moment became the catalyst for a wretched week full of sickness, laundry, multiple baths, saltines, and ice chips. Three of the five people in my family fell prey, including myself. Sick days from school, skipped runs, and sloppy messes ruled the roost as illness ran through my house like a fox with it tail on fire, setting everything ablaze.
It was awful, it was hard, and it was life. Life that everyone glosses over on their Facebook or Instagram feed. Because more often than not, life is really hard.
Life is Hardship
No one is immune. We all go through hardships of varying degrees throughout our life. Not only is it unavoidable, it’s practically guaranteed. And that makes it really hard not to throw up our hands and quit, or grumble and complain. I know I’m guilty of it.
It’s easy to be grateful and content when things are going well and to praise God when life is moving smoothly. Not so easy when your child throws up all over you, or you’re on your third sleepless night with a colicky baby, or you found out your cancer came back. It’s easy to give a generous thank-offering to the Lord when you receive a huge bonus from work. But it’s not so easy to say thanks when you’re facing a job loss, house foreclosure, or bankruptcy. It’s easy to be content your body and health when you look and feel good. But it’s not easy to be content when you’ve suffered your third, devastating miscarriage or are living with a painful, chronic disease.
Life is hardship, because life is sin. And there’s no escaping it. The Lord still blesses us through all of our hardships, but, this side of heaven, we will always have trails. And we will always struggle with finding contentment and reasons to rejoice through those trials.
The Secret to Contentment
We have a tendency to look for outward and worldly things to bring us joy: pretty clothes, fun trips, a nice house, the newest toys. When things are going well, it makes us happy. But happiness is fleeting: relying on other things or people to continue the feeling.
But true contentment comes from within, from the only one true thing that that can bring lasting joy, regardless of our life circumstances: Christ. While in prison (talk about hardships!), Paul wrote to the church in Philippi:
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through [Christ] who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
I know we like to use that passage for motivation, whether for marathons and running, working out, or even just tackling life goals. But the reality is, that passage is speaking directly to practicing contentment.
We get to be content. Not because our lives as Christians are so amazing, our kids are perfect and dressed in Gymboree, or because we have upgraded kitchens and fancy cars. It’s fine and wonderful if you do, but that’s not what brings us true joy and contentment. That’s not what keeps us strong and faithful when the hardships of this life threaten to swallow us up whole.
Our contentment comes from Christ. His death and resurrection have given us everything we need to not only be content, but joyful and grateful in every circumstance! Because…
Our hardships are but a brief moment.
We know that Heaven is ours.
God will never leave us nor forsake us.
We know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Through Christ, we already have everything we need to be content! We can rejoice that because the tomb is empty, heaven is ours! I know it’s not easy; this is something I struggle with daily. And this past week was exceptionally difficult for me. And while sickness ravaged my house and body, I was fully equipped to face the hardships God allowed in front of me.
I want to encourage you in whatever hardship you might be facing, that you can be content! You can conquer anything through Christ who strengthens you, because Christ already conquered everything! You are equipped by your crucified and risen Savior to face your trial, and your reward is waiting for you in heaven!