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. Philippians 4:12
Yesterday was my birthday and I am content. I had a sense of peace about the “rightness” of my life. I realized that I was content. I had been feeling this for a while but could not exactly name the emotion. While I can’t agree with Paul’s statement that I have learned the secret of being content, I am in the process of learning the secret. God is answering my prayer.
A few years ago we moved from the city to our current rural location. I still had a job in the city and was driving 52 miles one way every day. It was a good job and I enjoyed some aspects of it, but it was not worth a 100-mile commute every day. We prayed and asked for a job closer to our new home. Surely God would provide. He did, 13 months after we moved. Many days I would pray and cry on the commute to work. I would dry my tears and go teach my students at the small technical college that I worked at. Driving home was easier but it was still a long, long drive. Then I would get up and repeat the process Monday through Thursday for 13 long months.
Somewhere in the process I ran across the above verse and saw it like I had never seen it. I remember sitting on my front porch swing and being shocked that I had never thought of this before. I had always thought of Paul as a Super Christian. You know, kinda like a caped crusader that had super powers. Was I ever wrong. Paul was like me, a frail human. He had to learn to be content. I thought that if Paul could learn it I could too. I asked God to teach me but had very little hope that he would answer the prayer since I was miserable in my job.
I was hired for a good, local job. I left my job in the city and enjoyed my job that was 5 miles from my home. I settled in and thought I would stay at this job until I retired. Retirement was not close but close enough to be thinking about it. I was becoming content. I thought God was answering my prayer. Then he turned my world upside down five months later. The company that I worked for was funded by a government contract. The contract was up for renewal and they were denied the contract. All 65 employees were laid off. The new company hired 2 of us and I was not one of those 2.
My sense of contentment was shattered. I was thrust headlong into unemployment and job hunting. Since I was laid off, I received unemployment compensation. But that was only for 6 months and our budget took a big hit. I sent out resumes and more resumes. I went on many interviews. I interviewed for jobs that were offering any amount of pay both less and more than what I had been making. There was no job. Where was my God now? Contentment wasn’t even on the radar.
The 6 months ended and the money dried up. We had to adjust our budget to live within the income that my husband brought home. Then we went through a “fun” period of everything thing breaking. We would joke what we need to fix this week. I don’t remember all the things but we had many car issues, the dishwasher died, the vacuum cleaner broke.
On Good Friday of that year, we lost our water. We are rural and our water supply for the house and our sheep comes from a well. Our well died on Good Friday and was not brought back to life until Easter Monday. The well company came out Friday afternoon and gave us the news the entire well pump was dead. It could not be replaced until Monday and it was going to be expensive. Our stock tanks were full so our livestock would be fine. We went to the grocery store to buy water for drinking. We filled a few 5-gallon containers at a neighbor’s house for other uses. We made it through the weekend fine but wondered where is this God we serve?
It is now 2 ½ years, many repairs and a few appliance deaths past the layoff. No job has come. Somewhere along the journey, we decided that God did not want me to go back to work. My husband came to that conclusion sooner than I did. I have always wanted to stay home but felt like we needed the income. Being a teacher provided for my family but it was not my dream. Even though I felt this way, it was hard to let go. Now, we live with the attitude that if God has a job for me in the future he will make it so clear that we can’t miss it. Until then, I stay at home running the house and the ranch while my husband brings in the income.
My husband has been by my side throughout this whole adventure but I won’t tell his side of the story. It is his story to tell if he so chooses. Maybe one day he will do so on his blog. If he does, I will ask his permission to link it here so you can read his side of the story.
That being said, what I can say is that we both love the Lord with all our heart. The last few years he has shaken us in ways that we never thought possible. We have been shaken financially and there are many things not resolved. But we have learned and grown both individually and as a couple. God is good. He does things for his glory and our good. Many times I don’t understand as it is happening but see later.
You see, I am content. I now know and am learning that contentment is not in the things of this world. Contentment only comes through a deepening relationship with Jesus. That is how Paul was able to say that he was content in any and all situations. He did not have an easy life. He was shipwrecked, beat, stoned and flogged and yet he was content. He could say that because his eyes were focused on Jesus. I am not to the place where Paul was but I am walking the road.
Would you like to join me? Let me know what in the comments.My four dogs content on the couch on a cold winter’s morning.