This will be the last time I will be writing for this column in the Grace and Honor. Next month, I will go from being a Pastor’s wife to being a Missionary’s wife. There will be not only a change of title, and a change of location, but also a change of responsibilities and duties. I am not a person that likes change. Generally speaking, I find safety and security in things that stay the same. But over the years, the Lord has taught me that change is sometimes necessary. And through all the changes in my life, God has taught me that I can trust Him.
Several ladies have asked me how I am dealing with all the coming changes—especially since they are so major and affect my life in so many ways. I have to be honest—some days I don’t do very well. But those are the days when I am looking at things my way and not God’s way. The secret is found in having a right perspective. In Philippians 4:11-13 the Apostle Paul gives us the key. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Paul knew what it was like to abound and to suffer hardship. Yet, he had learned the secret of contentment. What is contentment? The Bible describes it as a word that means sufficiency. And sufficiency is a word that is used to describe the fact that I have enough. In whatsoever state God has put me in, I can learn to be content. In whatever situation I find myself in, I can be assured that God has given me enough, and I can be content.
Many women have trouble in the area of contentment. Somehow they have convinced themselves that they deserve a carefree life with no troubles and a life that gives them everything they desire. Then they look around them where they are and think that God has short-changed them. They think if only things were different, then they would be happy.
The single woman says, “If I was married to a husband like hers, I know I would be happy.” The married woman sighs, “If I was only single, then I could live in peace again.”
“If only I could have some children. Then my life would feel fulfilled,” the barren woman cries. On the other hand, the busy mother exclaims, “If only I didn’t have these children, I could get so much done with my life!”
“If only I could have a bigger house. Then I could be content,” complains the woman with 3 children living in a small apartment. Across town, the woman with the big house complains about having to spend all her time in cleaning her house.
The woman whose husband doesn’t have a high-paying job wants him to get a second job so he can make more money. The woman whose husband works long hours to provide for the family complains that she never sees her husband.
Lack of contentment—it seems to be an epidemic. The single want to be married. The married want to be single. The barren women want children. And those with children want to be childless again. And nobody wants anything to do with suffering or trials or hardships or struggle of any kind. It seems like just about everybody believes that they would be doing better if only they could be doing something different, or if they could have something different.
God has planted each one of us in the soil where He wants to see us bloom. His desire is that we be content in our circumstances and bloom in such a way that will bring glory to Him. But in order to bring forth the kind of flowers that He would like to see, we must be willing to allow our roots to grow deep in the soil He has planted us in. We must learn to be content. As we look in the Word of God, we can find several Biblical examples of women who learned the art of contentment.
Anna was a woman who was widowed at a very young age. In Luke chapter two we find that she was married only seven years and then was single for eighty-four years after that. How did she spend all her time? She served the Lord in the temple. I imagine that Anna was heartbroken when her husband died at such a young age. Think about it—she probably wasn’t even twenty-five years old when her husband died. Anna had been called to bloom as a young wife, and then quickly transplanted into widowhood. I’m sure this was a shock to her, but she allowed her roots to grow deep and in the years to come she blossomed into one of the most lovely servants of God. She learned to be content.
Ruth was a lovely, virtuous young woman that lost her husband and was left to live with her whiny, bitter and ungrateful mother-in-law. That kind of a situation would drive most people crazy, but not Ruth. She learned to trust God and be content wherever she was, and her life became a blessing not only to Naomi, but to all those around her.
How do you learn contentment? You remind yourself that God has placed you in the situation you are in and He will give you everything you need in that situation. He has a reason for planting you there, and He wants you to bloom in that place and bring glory to Him. God says you have enough—therefore you can trust Him and be content.
A woman might say, “I’m a woman married to a busy man that doesn’t spend that much time with me.” Be content—God says you have enough.
Another might say, “I’m a mother with five crazy children and I need more free time.” Be content—God says you have enough.
Or one might say, “I’m a single woman that has never been married and I need a husband.” Be content—God says you have enough.
Another one might complain, “I’m living in a small house and need more space.” Be content—God says you have enough.
Ladies, the real secret to my happiness in this world is not me being in different circumstances, but me being different in my own circumstances. Godliness with contentment is the key. Learning to bloom in every situation is the goal.
I read a story recently that describes the learned art of contentment very well. It told about a 92-year-old man, whose wife of 70 years had passed away. He was legally blind, so he had to move into a nursing home. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when he was told his room was ready. As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, the nurse provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.
“I love it,” he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mr. Jones, you haven’t even seen the room yet. How can you know that you love it?” the nurse asked.
“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” he replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged—it is how I arrange my mind. I have already decided to love it. It is a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice. I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.”
I have determined in my life that I am going to be content—wherever I am—because I know that I can trust my Lord. He knows what is best for me, and He knows just what I need in my life. And it will always be enough! For the last 22 years, I have been content in Pennsylvania being a pastor’s wife. Now, I have determined to be content as we travel around the country to raise support, and as I sort through our belongings deciding what to keep and what to give away. As I look to the future, I have determined to be content in the country of Botswana, as we serve the Lord there. You see, it really is a choice I can make! I want my life to bloom wherever the Lord plants me, and I want to bring glory to Him.
Do you want to be bloom as a beautiful flower in this life? Then learn the art of contentment. Arrange your mind and choose to be happy in whatever circumstances you find yourself in. Make the most of the soil that you have been planted in—and let God work through your life to bring glory to Him.