Friday, July 22, 2011

Finding Contentment in Lean Times

The Bible warns us about comparing ourselves to others. It's an unwise thing to do. (2 Corinthians 10:12)
I think the reason for that, at least in part, is that you never know what another person has been through. We may look at another family that seems to be more financially comfortable than we are, for example, and begin to be envious of their situation.

In this instance, however, what we don't know is what's hurting us.

I know many times I've looked at various couples or families and felt jealous of what I perceived their situation to be. But is it always the situation I think it is? Probably not.

Consider these possibilities:

  • Maybe they work a whole lot more (or a whole lot harder) than I do.
  • Maybe they have some kind of income that isn't obvious, like an annuity or settlement of some kind.
  • Maybe they have sacrificed something precious to them in the area of giving, and now God has blessed them (Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38).
  • Maybe they're much more diligent in the area of budgeting and saving.
  • Maybe, just maybe, they're in debt up to their eyeballs!

It's easy for us to look at someone else and think that they simply have it better than we do. Life is easier for them, and we want our lives to be like theirs. We get frustrated with God and feel bad about where we are in life.

Personally, I feel that in our society (and especially my generation), we are much more tempted to be discontent with our lot. Not that we need to stay in the same place forever, and we shouldn't strive to do better, but it's challenging to simply "be" and wait for God to bring us increase.

Our trust gets put in the wrong places and we look to things to make us happy. We strive in our own power to get to that place of being fortunate, happy, "to be envied", when the only way to get there (really!) is to trust in God and find contentment in Him.

I love what the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:12 (Amplified):

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.

"...the secret of facing every situation..." We learn that secret in the next verse, "I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me..." God gives us strength for our situation! Not what we think someone else's situation is! Ours.

Have you ever fallen into the trap of comparisons? What Scriptures help you find peace and contentment in your current situation?