I hold a tension in my feelings for this new spring season. While I love the whole idea of things blooming, allowing more time to enjoy the sunshine, I don’t like the effect the pollen and emerging nature have on my sinuses. Spring allergies make it hard to enjoy all the good things I see. The simple act of mowing the lawn can send my family into asthmatic wheezing — no fun at all!
And yet, I am ready for winter to end. I am ready for the brown grass and dead leaves to be full of chlorophyll once again. The beautiful spring flowers are a welcome sight! I have been walking for miles every day and loving it! There are so many good things about this spring season, but it’s not perfect. No earthly season ever is. It requires me to embrace both the good and bad parts of it — to live in gratitude and joy while praying for allergy relief through the arrival of summer.
Like me, do you ever feel like you are incapable of being fully satisfied? It’s so hard to hold two truths, isn’t it? That both anticipation and contentment can be experienced simultaneously?
The danger is that we can live in a perpetual state of deep dissatisfaction with the lives God has given us if we don’t live in the grace of this tension. Gospel grace says that there is a day coming when I will be able to enjoy flowers, trees, and freshly mown grass without itchy eyes, sneezing, or wheezing involved. His grace allows us to also praise God for giving mankind knowledge of how to block the pollen through allergy medications. I am so thankful for that! Embracing grace means that while I don’t like allergies, my displeasure of them won’t override the truth of who God is – the Creator and Sustainer of all things, including me. I will guard my heart against bitterness.
My mental tug-of-war is a picture of the Christian life. We have the natural tendency to be unhappy unless everything looks the way we want it to — we want “quiet times” with immediate results, we want quick answers to prayers in our will, and we don’t want to be touched by the realities of earthly life. Without verbalizing it, we want only “good” things from the hand of God (good in our estimation of what that looks like, because He is by nature holy and good). In this, a perpetual discontent fills our souls and guides our daily behaviors, leaving us weary and wounded.
What is the cure for Christians to live in satisfaction and peace? First, we acknowledge the existence of both truths – of contentment and longing – as strangers of earth and citizens of heaven. Then, we look to Scripture on how to live in the tension of these truths.
We live with deep reverence (fear) for the Lord who saved us. Proverbs 19:23: The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
We eat and drink, coming daily to the source of life; Christ is the Bread of Life. John 6:35: Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
We delight (practice expressing joy) in God and His ways. Psalm 37:4: Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
We believe and trust God. Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
We abide in His presence through time and attention. Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
We give generously as God blesses us. We sacrifice and learn to depend on God. Acts 20:35: In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
We know the truth of our stories – we came into the world with nothing and will leave with nothing but the things we have sown in righteousness. 1 Timothy 6:6-8: Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.
We do the work God has given us to do — and do it with excellence. 1 Peter 2:9: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
We dwell on the saving grace of Jesus — our justification and inheritance. 2 Corinthians 5:21: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
We understand where our power to overcome and strength to endure comes from. Philippians 4:11-13: Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
We rest and rehearse the steadfast love of God. Psalm 90:14: Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
We resist the urge to compare or be envious of others. Proverbs 14:30: A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
I pray that you would consider the things here in this list and pick one to pray over. Meditate on the Scripture, memorize it if you can, and “think on these things”. Praying God’s words back to Him is a way to glorify Him, to cultivate a soft heart, and to build intimacy with your Savior.
Can you think of other ways we can live in the grace of tension between resting and wrestling in our life of faith and human existence? I would love to hear how you cultivate contentment in your life?