Contentment in the New Year

A new year is a time for reflection. The Year of our Lord 2006 has swiftly drawn to a close and the Year of our Lord 2007 has begun. Has the Lord’s hand touched your life in a striking way in the past year? Have you shed tears because of the loss of a friend or relative in death? Are you or someone close to you dealing with a serious illness or injury? Are you content with your path of life?

The apostle Paul in Philippians 4:11 states: “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” He wrote this letter from Rome where he was imprisoned for his faith. In chapter 1, he speaks of a conflict within himself of remaining on earth or going to heaven to be with the Lord. By chapter 4 of this epistle, he confesses that he is content with God’s will for his life.

Contentment is a hard lesson for all of us to learn. When things are going well for us, it is easy for us to say, “Yes, I am content. I am able to wake up each day and enjoy good health and strength. I am able to do the work the Lord has given me to do as a student or as an employee. I live in a happy home. My friends are always there for me.” This may be true of the circumstances of our lives at this moment. If our lives were to suddenly change today, would we still be content?

For a moment, let us remember the history of Job. Job was a very rich man until he lost almost everything he had when the Lord used Satan to try him. He lost his oxen, sheep, asses, camels, most of his servants, his sons and daughters in one day. Then we read that in the midst of his sorrow over his losses, he confessed in Job 1:21, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” What an amazing confession of faith. Job had lost his sons and daughters and almost everything he owned and he worshipped God and made a beautiful confession concerning the sovereignty of God. Then we read: “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” (Job 1:22) When God used Satan to take away Job’s health and give him boils, Job’s faith faltered and he cursed the day he was born. Then, even though the words of his friends were often mean and unjust, Job again was led to confess God’s sovereignty and became content with His ways. At the end of Job’s trial, God reproved Job’s friends and blessed Job with seven more sons, three more daughters and more animals. We read in Job 42:12, “So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning.”

Are we quick to say, God won’t send trials as great as Job’s trial into our lives? Then we must remind ourselves that only God knows and controls the path of each person He has created. Job confesses this in Job 23:10, “But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” The prophet Isaiah in chapter 64 verse 8 confesses God’s sovereign control of our lives when he writes, “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Just as the potter can do anything he wants with the lump of clay and the pot he forms with it, so God fashions us and controls our lives. He does whatsoever He pleases with the life of each person He has created. He gives health and strength one moment and then He can suddenly send sickness or injury. He gives us family and friends and then He takes a loved one to Himself suddenly through death. He does this because He is our sovereign God and heavenly Father.

Knowing this, we as children of God find the grace and strength necessary to be content with our path of life, even when we are faced with great trials. We must be content because we know that God uses this life and the trials of this life to prepare us for our place in heaven. That is the goal of our life. We haven’t begun another year to acquire more of this world’s goods. We haven’t resolved to try to do better in our studies to receive more recognition. We haven’t chosen a healthy life-style so we can live longer. By the grace of God, we have asked God to give us more contentment. Being content, we walk with God down the path of life He hath made for us, knowing that we are getting closer to the day when our path will reach the gate of heaven.