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Contentment During the Christmas Season

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Administrative note:

I am on an email vacation through January 6th.  You are welcome to comment on posts, but please kindly hold emails for me until January 7th.  Thank you and Merry Christmas!

 

This time of year can seem to exacerbate loneliness and maybe even tempt many of people into depression.  (Depression this time of year is an issue for lots of folks, actually.)  

MARRIAGE DOESN’T GUARANTEE FREEDOM FROM LONELINESS:

Loneliness is one of the most painful things about marriage, when things are not going well.  Several years of our marriage were the loneliest of my life.

  • sometimes because Greg and I worked opposite shifts for 2 years
  • sometimes because Greg worked a full time job then worked on the house until midnight 6 days a week for months or a year at a time.
  • sometimes I was lonely because I repelled Greg with my disrespect, pride, self-righteousness and controlling behavior and he would ignore me almost all of the time – wouldn’t look at me, touch me or talk with me much at all.  Of course, I had no idea I contributed to him shutting down at the time.  Wow! I wish I knew then what I know now!

I know MANY of you are suffering from loneliness right now.  How I wish I could hug your necks!

Ultimately, I believe now as I look back, that I was in great pain because I didn’t know how to find my contentment in Christ alone.

THE SECRET TO CONTENTMENT:

The truth about contentment is that if you are not content now, you would probably not be content even if you had what you wanted.  Once you have that, you would want something else or something more.

One time when our son was about 4 years old, he said, “Mama!  If I could JUST have that new Thomas the train I would NEVER ask for anything else again for the rest of my life!”  I had to laugh so hard.   Of course there were MANY more things he wanted after that ONE thing he just had to have.  We are insatiable.

If you are basing your contentment on circumstances, then you will always think that if you could just have one more thing, you would be happy.

  • If a guy would just act interested in me, I would be happy.
  • Then a guy is interested in you and you think… if he would just commit to be my steady boyfriend, I would be happy.
  • Then you get a boyfriend, and you think… If I could just have an engagement right, I’d be happy.
  • Then you get an engagement ring, and you think… If I could just have a set wedding date, I’d be happy.
  • Then you have a date and you think… If I could just be done planning this wedding, I’d be happy.
  • Then you have your wedding day and you think… If we could just have a beautiful house, I’d be happy.
  • Then you have a beautiful house and you think… If we could just have some children, I’d be happy.
  • Then you get pregnant and you spend months throwing up every day and you think… if I could just get to my second trimester, I’d be happy.
  • Later in the pregnancy, you think, if I could just have this baby and not be pregnant anymore, I’d be happy.
  • You have the baby and you think… if the baby would just let me sleep for 2 hours in a row, I’d be happy.

It goes on and on and never stops…

I’d be happy if only:

  • I made more money
  • I had better health
  • I lost weight
  • I gained weight
  • my church were different
  • I had a better job
  • I worked a different shift
  • I felt loved by my husband
  • my husband were more romantic
  • if my husband didn’t work so much
  • if my husband didn’t watch tv so much
  • if my husband paid more attention to me
  • if my children were better behaved
  • if my children were in college
  • if my children were out of college
  • if my children would leave the house
  • if my children were back home

If we are not careful – we can make idols of these things and decide that we MUST have them or we cannot be content.  Some of these things are good things.  But we have to be careful where we put them in our priorities.  If we put them above Christ in our hearts in importance – that is big time sin – idolatry.

Hopefully, you get the picture.  There are always more things for us to want, but when we get more things, even good things, if we don’t know how to find our contentment in Christ, we will still be discontent.

GOD GIVES US THE POWER TO CHOOSE CONTENTMENT NO MATTER WHAT OUR CIRCUMSTANCES!

The Bible has a pretty amazing standard for contentment:

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 

God’s standard for me to be content is to have Christ and His Spirit and to have food for today and clothing on my back today.

This is not a popular idea today  in our society – to be content with very little.  But this is exactly what God desires us to do.  As we make Christ the MOST IMPORTANT focus of our lives, the other stuff starts to not matter nearly as much – “the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”  We can truly begin to say, “Not my will but Yours be done” and we can learn to be content no matter what circumstances may come, trusting God to do what is ultimately best for us in everything.

What a blessing not to have to depend on circumstances but to depend fully on Christ for our joy and contentment!!

How can we be content in any and every situation?

Through Christ who gives me strength!  Philippians 4:13

If God grants us the desires of our hearts – awesome.  But if He chooses another path for us – we can trust that we are in His loving hands and nothing can separate us from His love and that His wisdom is infinitely higher than our own.

16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  I Thessalonians 5

DISCUSSION:

1. What kinds of things help you during the Christmas season to experience God’s love in a deeper way?

2. What kinds of things make this time of year harder for you and fuel discontentment or loneliness?

3. What are you involved in that brings you joy? A hobby?  A friendship? Maybe a ministry to others?

4. How can you avoid comparing your life to what other people have?

5. What blessings do you have in your life right now?

6. How can you plan to shoot down any fleshly feelings of resentment, bitterness, jealousy or idolatry in your heart this week?

7. What kinds of friendships do you have that boost you, encourage you and nourish your soul?

8. Is there someone who is lonely, too, that God may want  you to reach out to this week?

9. How do you plan to focus on being content in Christ this week and next week as New Year’s approaches?

Lord,

I lift up my precious sisters (and brothers) to Your throne room in the highest heaven from which You reign in total sovereignty, love and justice.  I pray for godly friendships and godly marriages for each of these beloved children of yours.  I pray for a sense of family in their churches and in their communities.  I pray for godly mentors for them.  I pray for opportunities for them to minister to others and share the love of Christ and experience the joy that comes from giving of themselves.  I pray for them not to isolate themselves but to reach out to others to develop deep spiritual friendships that will nurture their souls and sharpen them in their faith in Christ and that will bless their new friends, as well, for Your glory.

Let this not be a time of loneliness, isolation, depression and tears.

Let this be a time of great joy, thankfulness, celebration, trust in You, peace, patience and hope as these friends of mine train their eyes to stay on Christ, not on their circumstances.  May they find the true contentment that only comes from Christ this Christmas, and every day, even if their circumstances are not what they wish they were.

Surround my sisters (and brothers) with Your love. Let them spend much time feasting on Your Word, praising You, thanking You, worshipping You, seeking Your face and listening to Your voice.  Make them a bright light for Christ in this dark world. Use them for Your greatest glory this week and every week.  Make them faithful to Your Name, Lord!

In the Name and power of Christ,

Amen!

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