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Advent: Contentment

I am used to celebrating Joy on the 3rd week of Advent… you know, the special pink candle and all…  But this year, I am drawn to a focus on contentment, which I think might be the quieter sister of joy.

Where happiness seems to be something we are endlessly pursuing, joy and contentment hold a steadfast quality that I deeply desire.

I am reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed, which could be described as a sociological memoir about marriage. Something she wrote resonated with me deeply about life in general and this topic of contentment. 

In a world of such abundant possibility, many of us simply go limp from indecision.  Or we derail our life’s journey again and again, backing up to try the doors we neglected on the first round, desperate to get it right this time.  Or we become compulsive comparers – always measuring our lives against some other person’s life, secretly wondering if we should have taken her path instead” (p46). 

But in another book, the good ‘ole Apostle Paul tells us, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Phil 4: 11-12) And that secret is…

No, Paul doesn’t really say. Oh… wait. The next verse is the one that reads, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13)

Maybe I thought it’d be more complicated. Maybe I want it to be more mysterious. Maybe I don’t fully understand what it means in its simplicity.  What I really wanted was Paul’s 5-Step Plan for Contentment.  So… I created my own.  Well, it’s only Sarah’s 3 Suggestions for Seeking Contentment through Christ.

Thanksgiving

I know… that holiday’s over, this is supposed to be about Advent. But sometimes I notice that when I’m looking ahead a lot… expecting… that I forget to look around.  This Advent season I am becoming aware of some specific elements in my life for which I am thankful. Some of them, I am realizing, have replaced things that I thought I wanted instead, and I find I have spent more time mourning that loss than giving thanks for the newness around me. 

 Fixed Focus

The difference between the Gilbert and Paul quotes above?  One is focused on looking at self and other people while the other is focused on Jesus.  I want to keep my eyes so firmly fixed on Christ that I do not doubt the directions where He has led me because I see He’s leading someone else somewhere different.

Asking

Maybe I shouldn’t have written anything else in this post except the Philippians verse and this question: Have I ever asked God to help me in my contentment? If Paul is telling us the truth, then God will give us strength to know this quiet peace of being content.

I pray contentment for you this Advent… whether materially, relationally, stationally, or any other context that ends in –ly. And if you have other additions for our “Suggestions for Seeking Contentment through Christ,” I’m all ears!    

If you are keeping up with this year’s Advent series, here are past posts...
Week 1: Expectation
Week 2: Patience

Or continue on to Week 4: Celebration

2 comments

  1. I needed this Sarah. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm really glad that it connected with you, Tracy! Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete

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