Just when we thought The COVID crisis was improving, we see on the news that cases are rising and that businesses opened too early. No one seems sure about the economy or what will happen when (and if) schools open in the Fall. Uncertainty continues. One of the leading causes of anxiety is uncertainty. Many feel like they’re walking in the dark. What does contentment look like when you don’t know the future?
The Psalmist David also lived during uncertain days. Chased and hunted by King Saul, David never knew if he would be alive long enough to fulfill the promise God had given him to be the next king. David wrote Psalm 16 and declared confidently in verse 5, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” I’ve been meditating on this verse for the past week. What David models here for us is deep contentment even when life isn’t going according to our plans.
What does contentment look like in the middle of uncertainty? Does contentment mean we won’t feel heavy-hearted about the suffering around us? Does it mean we won’t feel angry over injustice? Does it mean we’ll adopt an emotionally flat posture and just repeat a mantra of, “I’m content in the Lord”?
I believe contentment can hold ambivalent feelings of joy and sorrow at the same time. Joy comes from God’s presence and sorrow comes from the suffering around us. So how do we cultivate contentment? Are there tangible steps we can take? Yes! Here are just a few choices you and I can make:
Choose to Keep Your Eyes Fixed on Jesus. “I will keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). David writes that in the midst of his suffering, He will not look away nor walk away from the Lord. Even in the suffering and uncertainty, keep your eyes on Jesus. Move towards Him rather than away from Him. Train your eyes to see suffering through His eyes. He weeps with our suffering and feels the emotions of sadness and anger over injustice. Feel those feelings with Christ but keep Him as your focus. Too often our focus is on what we’re lacking. If you obsess about what you don’t have, discontent will grow. Instead, remind yourself of the words of Psalm 23:1, “I lack nothing!” Keep your focus on Christ.
Choose to Praise God Even in the Dark. “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me: even at night my heart instructs me” (Psalm 16:7). In other words, David chooses to praise God even when life feels dark and he doesn’t know where God is leading. Friend, the truth is, no matter how much you grow in your relationship with Christ, you will not always understand His ways. If you did, He wouldn’t be God. Choose by faith to worship even when you weep. Choose by faith to praise when the plan seems wonky. Choose by faith to give thanks even when you are lacking. Is that hypocritical? No. It’s called faith.
Choose to Find Joy in His Presence. “You will fill me with joy in your presence” (Psalm 16:11). The greatest joy you will ever know is found in the presence of Christ, but we have to train our souls to enjoy His presence. We fill our lives with lesser joy givers: our spouse, our kids, our grandkids, Netflix, chocolate, alcohol, or a host of other things. Our relationships, entertainment, and food bring joy. That is right and good. However, they can’t bring as much joy as Jesus can. Your deepest joy will always be found in God’s presence. Learn how to enjoy His presence more fully. Create sacred space to enjoy worship music, worship walks, and worship in His word. Ask the Holy Spirit to cultivate deeper joy and delight in God’s presence.
Friend, the truth is, Christ is our source of contentment, but sometimes because we’re human we need the reminder. Why don’t you write out Psalm 16:5 on an index card and post it in your house where it is readily visible. Say the words out loud and remind yourself that the deepest contentment is always found in Christ.
We launched Psalms for the Anxious Heart this past week and people are already writing to say that the devotional is blessing them! Friend, if you haven’t ordered yours yet, you can order it here: https://www.amazon.com/Psalms-Anxious-Heart-Devotional-Uncertain/dp/0802423388/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=psalms+for+the+anxious+heart&qid=1594470342&sr=8-1
If you’ve received yours and are enjoying it, would you be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon? Or Goodreads? Thanks so much!