NovelSisters

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The Secret of Contentment

I was reading one of my favorite books in the Bible this week and had a few conversations with friends about life and work and well I just kept thinking about contentment.

Paul says in Philippians 4:12 “I have learned the secret of being content in every circumstance.” Isn’t that amazing! Just think about it. Any circumstance, whether you’re stuck in a job you hate, have had inadequate sleep, are dealing with emotional traumas, or are depressed or anxious, or bored, or whatever else you can think of. No matter what situation you find yourself in, Paul says there is a secret to being content in it.

Paul goes on to write, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” The secret isn’t spa treatment, or taking deep breaths, or being able to control what happens, it’s Jesus. He can give you His strength in whatever situation you are facing, and as you rely on Him, you find contentment.

I’ve seen this happen over and over in my life. And it’s something I have to be reminded of again and again. When I give my worries, fears, frustrations, concerns, hopes and dreams to Jesus, I find contentment and peace.

Even when the situation doesn’t end, or the problem doesn’t go away, it’s easier to face it with Jesus by my side. And that’s why it’s so important to spend time with Jesus every day. Without His help, my life quickly becomes all about me and what I want. And then I get frustrated and discontent when things don’t go my way.

But when I spend time with Jesus, I get to let go of all those things and trust Him with the circumstances I’m facing. Suddenly it doesn’t matter where I work. or how tired I am, or what I’m dealing with, because I know He is bigger than all those things and able to work in them.

But it’s hard to remember that if I don’t purposefully stop and spend time with Jesus. One of the students I work with shared recently about how he could see such a difference when he spent time with Jesus. It really does change your attitude and perspective.

Another man I spoke with who has been mentoring men in prison told me he tells all the guys he mentors if you have a quiet time (time alone with Jesus to read and pray and be with Him) I guarantee you will never go to prison again. I think what he meant is all the frustrations and temptations and problems lose their power when Jesus is around. They might be too strong for us to handle, but they aren’t too strong for Jesus and He gives us His strength.

So anyway, all that to say, I’ve been reminded this week of how important it is to be with Jesus and rest in His strength and find my contentment in Him. Circumstances may change, but He never will.

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Why Do I Spend Time Alone with God?

Book, Bible, Old, Antique, Holy Scripture, Christianity

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Growing up in a Christian household and in a Bible church, I have learned from a young age to have a “quiet time” with God. As I’ve grown up this time has gone through the phases or being a chore, a learning experience, a comfort, and a joy. It’s also changed as I’ve grown and matured. When I first started having a time by myself with God, I was focused on reading the Bible. That seemed to be the whole point. I was supposed to read God’s word in a quiet place and maybe make some notes about what I had read. It was similar to doing homework that my teachers had assigned.

But I clearly remember one year in high school I decided to read the whole Bible in one year. My Bible came with a handy little reading guide in the back, and I used it to read the whole thing. Well, when January 1st came I had done it, I had finished reading the whole thing. I got out my Bible again and my little sister asked me, “Why are you reading that? I thought you finished it.” And I realized that reading the Bible is a lot more than just reading a book. The point isn’t to read the whole thing and then put it back on the shelf. It helps me get to know God, it shows me what He’s like:His character and feelings. And it shows me what needs to change in my own life.

Well, on top of this reading of God’s Word, I had the clear impression that I was supposed to pray, or talk to God during my “quiet time.” Kind of like God’s Word was what He said to me, and prayer was my response to Him. So most of my time with God involved me reading, then righting down notes, and then writing out a prayer to God.

I found that after that year of reading the whole Bible, that if I ever took a day off from reading, life just seemed more difficult. I didn’t have a good attitude about things, and I didn’t feel right. I also remember a few specific times when I was really upset about something and decided to pull out my Bible to read, and found a sense of comfort and peace.

Thus I learned that a time alone with God wasn’t so much a requirement to being a Christian, but a way for me to handle all that life threw at me. No matter what crazy project I had to finish, or big decision that had to be made, or drama that was going on with a friend, I could tell God about it in my time alone with Him and know that He was listening. He cared, and as His Word promised again and again:  I was not alone, He was in control, and He was going to work everything out for the best.

This past month, I have been learning more about spending time alone with God. Our church has been practicing the discipline of Prayer and Solitude. I might have thought that my past years of learning meant that I wouldn’t get much out of this discipline, but it has been exciting for me to see how much joy and happiness is found in God’s presence. During this month I got to spend 10 days setting aside 30 minutes to just talk (out loud, which is not normal for me) to God about anything and everything. It was amazing how much more at peace I felt and how much closer to God I was after these times. Then early one morning I got to go to a park and just sit in God’s creation, marveling at all He had made and what it showed me about Him. During this time I also read His word without being in a rush or facing distractions. I had no where to be, no responsibilities to be mindful of, and I truly enjoyed just being with God.

In addition, this whole month I’ve been reading a book called “Happiness” by Randy Alcorn. This book has been almost a daily reminder of how much God loves me, how He wants me to enjoy Him and be happy in all that He has made and given me. It was truly a blessing to be reminded constantly that God wants me to be happy and can actually give me that true happiness in Himself. And spending time alone with Him is a big way of how I enter into that happiness.

So anyway, that’s what God has been teaching me recently, and I thought I’d share it. Maybe this can inspire you to spend some more time alone with God and enter into His happiness and joy.

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