Contentment is found in prayer and thanksgiving
Think back to the last good fog you drove through or were out in. I’m talking about the kind of fog you can’t see more than 10 feet in front of you. Dense fog makes it dangerous to maneuver a car, bike, or sometimes even walk!
A few years ago, I got up early and headed out for a 20-mile bike ride. It was a little foggy in town but quickly became dangerous on the backroads of my bike route. I had to take it slow until the fog lifted. It was too dangerous to ride at full speed, not seeing what was in front of me.
Fog is interesting. It stops road traffic, cancels and delays schools, and keeps bike riders from getting their 20-mile ride in. Yet, according to the U.S. Bureau of Standards, a dense fog covering seven entire city blocks one hundred feet deep condensed down wouldn’t even fill a regular drinking glass.
Something as incapacitating as fog, reduced, is not much bigger than a regular glass of water.
Paul and Jesus have a good idea
Maybe that’s why Paul and Jesus both warned about worry and anxiety. Like a heavy, dense fog, they incapacitate and block our sight, perception, and discernment. But on taking a closer look and when condensed down, we discover they have little substance.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 that worry is worthless. It doesn’t add anything of value to life. It’s the opposite. It steals contentment from life, becoming a barrier to contentment. Paul echoes this in the Scripture we’ve been studying this month.
Phil. 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
First, Paul says, don’t worry, don’t be anxious about anything. Just stop for a minute and consider the last time you were all nutted up inside about something. Chances are it’s been recent. We all struggle with it, so you’re not alone. Me included!
Now before we continue, a little housekeeping. There is a good kind of anxiety. For instance, Paul was anxious for the spread of the Gospel. Paul was anxious to see the local churches flourish. This isn’t crippling anxiety but the kind that pushes us forward, making us strive to further the kingdom.
The worry and anxiety Paul refers to paralyzes. It’s the kind of worry that feels like being unhinged or pulled apart. It destroys contentment.
So what destroys that kind of anxiety and worry? Prayer, petitions, and thanksgiving. Paul tells us to take our clearly defined prayer requests to God. God knows what we need, but we need to declare our dependence on Him. We need reminding that we aren’t in control. He is. And He is always good.
We take them to Him with a thankful heart. This is a thankfulness flowing from somewhere deeper than the circumstances. It flows from the relationship, the sustenance of our everything.
There is something about a conversation with God that fosters and creates a thankful heart. The act of placing our cares, concerns, worries, and anxieties encourages a grateful heart. What results is nothing short of remarkable! God’s peace. God’s assurance and God’s contentment, whatever our lot may be.
Don’t try to figure it out. You won’t. Paul even says it transcends all understanding. It just works! And the most incredible part? It mounts a guard over our hearts and minds. It provides a shelter for us to crawl up into the lap of our Abba Father and ask that He hold us close.
You can reduce the fog and condense it down. Definite prayers, a thankful heart, and dependence on God open up vision and discernment so you can see and navigate life, ushering in a rush of contentment.
The Jesus Jar
As we wind down our time together in this post, I’m thinking back to a previous post about a Jesus Jar. The idea was to take something on our hearts, write it down, and place it in a jar labeled Jesus. Why not do that today with what’s worrying you? Write it down, put it in the jar, and leave it in His capable hands. And when you feel tempted to worry about it again, take it out of the jar, recommit it back to Him in thankful prayer, and put it back in the jar, trading the worry and anxiety for His peace and contentment. It is possible, but you can’t do it alone. Remember, Paul learned the secret to contentment was found in nothing else than his sustenance in Jesus Christ. Paul also had others that he surrounded himself with that encouraged and loved him.
You and I need both. We need Jesus. And we need each other. If you need both, I know a great community where you can belong!
You are loved!