A Forced Rest and Contentment

“Forced rest” was a phrase a friend of mine used a few weeks ago during a prayer time. I’ve been thinking about that phrase a lot since then. The phrase wasn’t directed at me but even so, it got my attention. The pain in my lower back is so intense that I am forced to seriously edit what activities I engage in. Typically, I’d be ultra-busy during my vacation; there are workouts to do, hikes to take, blogs to write, books to read, home improvement or other fixer upper stuff to do, and so on. Instead, I’m spending an inordinate amount of time on my rump simply reading or journaling.

Then yesterday my devotional was about contentment; another area that has recentlycontentment garnered my attention. Pain sometimes causes contentment to be elusive if not wholly absent. Still, Scripture states we are to learn contentment.

Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.

—Philippians 4:11

Paul is stating that he had to acquire the knowledge to be content in all circumstances. Such learning is an active pursuit of knowledge with the goal of applying that knowledge in everyday life. In other words, Paul is continuing to expand his understanding of contentment. Interestingly, contentment actually means “self-sufficient;” however, Paul doesn’t stop here. He goes onto say in verses 12 and 13 that he has learned to be content when life is going well and when life is not going well. But he is careful to note that this ability, this learning, is enabled “through Christ who strengthens me” (v. 13). No, this isn’t some sort of mystical strength allowing Paul to somehow change his circumstances through enhanced faith; it’s much more practical than that. It is the Holy Spirit enabling Paul to contentedly endure whatever circumstances he’s facing.

This is easier said than done, of course. One exercise that helps me in contentment is from a song in the movie White Christmas, “Count Your Blessings.” It is so simple to do and yet, for some reason, seems archaic; but it works. For instance, despite the pain, I have a family that loves me that includes a wonderful Bride that is cheerfully picking up chores I’m currently unable to do, two healthy sons that are loving and helpful, a beautiful home, great friends, a career I enjoy…you get the point. To my knowledge, Paul had none of these. In fact, many Bible scholars and historians suggest that Philippians was written while Paul was imprisoned in Rome. Hello!? In prison and he’s still writing about contentment? That’s a sobering thought; so who am I to wallow in self-pity? Contentment is a much happier space to be in.

Another tool I’ve discovered on my journey toward contentment is to stop the “what-if-ing.” Though no specific event caused my current pain, I still am tempted to second-guess things I’ve done in my past that may have contributed to increased wear and tear. This is fruitless and only leads to self-shame.

I also strive to stop daydreaming about what I wish I was doing. We recently bought some snowshoes, but they’re still in their packaging in the garage. My bike is primed and ready to ride, plus the weather has been decent; but it, to, sits in the garage. And I’ve recently learned about some hiking trails close to home we’ve never ventured on. None of these activities are doable right now; so why focus on them in wishful bitterness?

I can still walk and do a few other little “exercise-y” things, so I’m choosing to embrace those with thankfulness. And, of course, I pray—often! I pray that my joy may be full (1 John 1:4, John 15:11 & 16:24), that my peace may be deep (Philippians 4:7), that my love is real (Matthew 5:44, John 13:35 & 15:12-13, Romans 12:9 and 1 Thessalonians 5:8), and, of course, for healing (Matthew 4:23, Acts 9:34 and 1 Peter 2:24).

Leaning into Christ will enable us to endure through any circumstance with contentment. And one day, all pain will cease (Revelation 21:4); but until that day, we can be thankful that the Lord is with us no matter what we are going through.

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Pentecost Today

Living_Waters

Today is Pentecost, a commemoration of one of the most monumental events to hit planet earth; it is the day God poured out His Holy Spirit upon the depraved, broken and lost mass of humanity. From that point forward, through faith in Jesus Christ, we—humanity—became a new creation and the temple of the living God! The mission of Jesus Christ came to full effulgence by way of the now ever-present ministry of the Holy Spirit.

No more priests, no more Holy of Holies, and no more middle of wall of division separated us from God; Jesus had demolished all of these, thereby paving a new pathway of faith in Him, sealed by way of the indwelling Holy Spirit in our souls. Easter, that is, the resurrection of Jesus, was a pivotal hinge, changing the course of this world, but it was not the final act of God in His cosmic plan for humanity’s redemption; and neither was the Ascension. While these events can truly stand on their own miraculous merits, God wasn’t finished, there was one more hinge pin left in God’s redemption of mankind, sending the Holy Spirit into the very heart of humanity, so that now all those calling upon the name of Jesus Christ would be forever sealed as sons and daughters of the living God!

This is the essence of being saved, believing on the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to then receive the free gift of salvation via the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are forever snatched out of the gates of hell and the clutches of Satan for an eternal destiny with Jesus forever more, amen!

Let’s hear it for Pentecost and for the living waters of God in our souls through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture references: Acts 2:1-4, 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Romans 10:9-10, Ephesians 2:14 and 1:13, Roman 5:15-18, Matthew 16:18, and John 4:13-14.