My Journey to Joy

March 28, 2012

Contentment: On Endurance

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
I was recently reminded about the difficulty of maintaining contentment while enduring trials.
Two years ago I was reading my bible while doing research for a devotional on spiritual deserts. Tears slowly dripped down my cheeks as I read…
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
~ Romans 5:3-5 (NLV)
Our life was full of stress and worry. Winter weather caused endless problems and the winter blues were hitting me hard. The economy caused my husband’s job to grow ever more challenging, and our finances soon followed. I experienced a number of health issues that caused me stress.
I was pretty much hanging on by a thread. I was angry and uninterested in my life. My habit was to get home from work and just sit on my couch and wallow in a funk. I was not myself and there did not seem to be an end in sight.
So I cried as I read that trials develop endurance and thought, “I’ve had enough of endurance. Enough. I don’t know how much more I can take. Surely some day there will be a reprieve. Enough, God, enough!
In my wiser moments, I could acknowledge that God had brought me joy in spite of – and even because of – my trials. I needed only to remember the past to see how God had used each problem.
Even when I’m armed with that knowledge, it can still be difficult to see past the junk that clutters and distracts me from God’s peace and contentment. Suffering tries its best to be a contentment stealer and it will succeed if I am not careful. Contentment is not an easy thing to attain and hold on to. It’s difficult and challenging. And being content doesn’t mean that life is perfect and problem free. Remember Paul, he had contentment in every situation – good and bad.
I notice in this passage in Romans that confident hope comes after trials, endurance, and character. This isn’t my favorite journey to take and I have experienced plenty of sorrow and failure, but it does have a purpose. Suffering does not have to be empty. It does not have to be in vain. If I endure, if I keep my focus on God and what he has done for me, I will not be disappointed.
Salvation allows us to have hope. Confident hope. A hope that does not disappoint. I’m not talking about a fleeting hope that focuses on the temporary, but about a hope found solely in God. Hope based on God’s love and sacrifice for us.
There is no room for discontent in that kind of hope!
I have a measure of contentment now that I did not have two years ago. My circumstances haven’t changed much since then, so what is different? The answer is a hard-fought change in my attitude with much prayer and correction from God. My ability to endure has grown. My character has matured. And most importantly, my relationship with God has deepened.
I can have confident hope while my husband’s job continues to be unstable year after year, and while dealing with long term infertility and the likelihood of being childless forever. Yes, I can have the confident hope of salvation in spite of all this (and more) because of God’s love and mercy.

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