Contentment


This morning’s sermon, drawn from Philippians 4, again drew my attention to contentment. The Message puts Paul’s comments on the topic this way: 11Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. 12I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. 13Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Why can I forget these verses and fall into discontent so easily?

A two-year-old finds contentment in the simply joy of a surprise evening trip to Brewster’s for a child’s ice cream cone. While there, and totally unplanned, Austyn Grace’s best friend Carley pulls up with her mom and dad. The squeals of the two girls immediately rival a family reunion after years, not hours, of separation. Whether milk after an afternoon nap or an unexpected visit with a girlfriend, contentment seems easy for a child.
Fast forward to this Sunday afternoon’s meltdown and I realize that even as children, we struggle to stay on top of contentment. A temporarily lost doll means anguish and a shorter-than-usual nap. Follow that with a bump on the head, a time out for refusing to listen to daddy, and a dunking of our toy pony in the toilet, and contentment vaporizes.
Am I that different from any two-year-old when I consider an adult approach to contentment? I read a Puritan prayer from The Valley of Vision, and again ask for the grace to gain a deeper understanding and a greater appropriation of biblical contentment.


PDRTJS_settings_141298_post_2679 = { “id” : “141298”, “unique_id” : “wp-post-2679”, “title” : “A+Puritan%26rsquo%3Bs+Prayer%3A+Contentment”, “item_id” : “_post_2679”, “permalink” : “http%3A%2F%2F5ptsalt.com%2F2009%2F06%2F19%2Fa-puritans-prayer-contentment%2F” } Heavenly Father,

If I should suffer need, and go unclothed, and be in poverty,
make my heart prize Thy love,
know it, be constrained by it,
though I be denied all blessings.

It is Thy mercy to afflict and try me with wants,
for by these trials I see my sins,
and desire severance from them.

Let me willingly accept misery, sorrows, temptations,
if I can thereby feel sin as the greatest evil,
and be delivered from it with gratitude to Thee,
acknowledging this as the highest testimony of Thy love.

When thy Son, Jesus, came into my soul
instead of sin He became more dear to me
than sin had formerly been;
His kindly rule replaced sin’s tyranny.

Teach me to believe that if ever I would have any sin subdued
I must not only labour to overcome it,
but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it,
and He must become to me more than
vile lust had been;
that His sweetness, power, life may be there.

Thus I must seek a grace from Him contrary to sin,
but must not claim it apart from Himself.
When I am afraid of evils to come,
comfort me by showing me
that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch,
but in Christ I am reconciled and live;
that in myself I find insufficiency and no rest,
but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace;
that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good,
but in Christ I have ability to do all things.

Though now I have His graces in part,
I shall shortly have them perfectly
in that state where Thou wilt show Thyself
fully reconciled,
and alone sufficient, efficient,
loving me completely,
with sin abolished.

O Lord, hasten that day.

Taken from ‘The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers,’ edited by Arthur Bennett

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