LENT DAY 23
Contentment By Tori Wallace
Paul wrote these words, while being denied every comfort, from a dark prison cell: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11)
In the Summer of 2013, I needed to get a job. I had just finished my second year of Trinity Western University and needed a job that could get me through my third. If you’re a University student, you know exactly how I felt. It’s a stressful thing to make enough money in 4 short months to live off of for 8!
So, I got a job at a greenhouse. What I soon realized was that this was a full-on labour job; like a start at 5 am, home by 6 or 7 pm kind of job. On busy weeks, it got to be closer to 10 or 11 pm before I was home! I refused to be “that girl”. I refused to quit. So that summer, I didn’t see anyone. I just worked and went to church on Sundays which was my only day off.
Every morning, when my alarm would go off at 4 in the morning, I would cry the whole way to work (I am not a morning person.) This job wasn’t only physically draining, it was emotionally difficult for me. Headphones were not allowed (every Millennial’s nightmare), and the majority of the jobs were solitary ones. So I was left, for 12-15 hours a day, to my own thoughts. It was maddening. I felt like I was going crazy, and that summer I came close to slipping into a depression. When I was working, it would take everything in me to get through each day. When I got home, I would crawl straight into bed.
Like things weren’t bad enough, a serious, long-term relationship ended pretty dramatically that same summer. Safe to say, this was a low point in my life.
I know now that God was teaching me something that summer. I was learning that I am called by God to be content whatever the circumstances. I look back now and I realize that God had me on a journey: he wanted to weaken me, so that, perhaps for the first time, would REALLY believe that when I am weak, that’s when I am truly strong. This devotion below was one I read over and over again during this time. If you are in a low point, I hope it speaks to you as much as it did to me:
A story is told of a king who went to his garden one morning, only to find everything withered and dying. He asked the oak tree that stood near the gate what the trouble was. The oak said it was tired of life and determined to die because it was not tall and beautiful like the pine tree. The pine was troubled because it could not bear grapes like the grapevine. The grapevine was determined to throw its life away because it could not stand erect and produce fruit as large as peaches. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac.
And so it went throughout the garden. Yet coming to a violet, the king found its face as bright and happy as ever and said, “well violet, I’m glad to find one brave little flower in the midst of this discouragement. You don’t seem to be the least disheartened.” The violet responded, “no, I’m not. I know I’m small, yet I thought if you wanted an oak or a pine or a peach tree or even a lilac, you would have planted one. Since I knew you wanted a violet, I’m determined to be the best little violet I can be.”
Others may do a greater work,
But you have your part to do;
And no one in all God’s family
Can do it as well as you.
People who are God’s without reservation “have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” His will becomes their will, and they desire to do for Him whatever He desires them to do. They strip themselves of everything, and in their nakedness find everything restored a hundredfold.
Prayer: God, I pray that I will have a “Paul-like” demeanor, knowing that you call me to be content in all circumstances. Paul had a difficult, trying life, void of all earthly comforts, and still he wrote that we are “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” I pray I will take these words to heart, and live them out in faith knowing that your plan for me is greater than mine could ever hope to be. Amen.