Of all the commands in the Bible, one of the ones I find the most difficult is being content. Just like everyone else, I tend to want things I do not have and get unhappy when I have to patiently wait for things. Contentment can be difficult to practice because it requires so much self-control and training in thought, and it is so difficult to measure. How do we know when we’ve reached it and become fully content? The most challenging thing about contentment is not that it requires so much willpower and training, it’s that it is such a narrow idea. Contentment requires being happy with what you have, yes, but it is not the same thing as being complacent. Complacency is when you have no drive or motivation to move forward and succeed. So where is this balance between moving ahead and seeking your goals while being happy with your current situation?
The key is gratefulness in all situations. Paul has much to say about this in Philippians. In verse 4:12-13 he says, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” This verse is used a lot in relation to perseverance and bravery, but it really connects with the idea of gratitude. Gratefulness is not the natural state of our souls. It is something we must learn and practice. This lesson can be learned through Christ’s example. Not only that, we can call upon the strength of the Holy Spirit to give us the strength to be grateful, because it can take a lot of strength. Being thankful isn’t simply a reaction to events, it is a resolution that can be practiced and improved upon.
“So while we practice gratitude we must also practice passion and diligence with what we have received. For if we do not invest, even if we are grateful, we are being complacent rather than content.”
Once we start putting to practice the idea of gratitude in all circumstances, we also must realize that we are called to use what the Lord has given us and invest in the future. Like the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30, we are given resources and gifts that He means for us to invest in ourselves and others, not simply for us have. So while we practice gratitude we must also practice passion and diligence with what we have received. For if we do not invest, even if we are grateful, we are being complacent rather than content. Yes, investing in yourself is important! Taking care of your needs is so necessary and pleasing to the Lord. Do not drive yourself dry in investing everywhere except for yourself. As Berry students, we are really bad at taking the time to recharge and say no to things when necessary. However, there is no excuse to not get out into the world and use the gifts and resources given to you. They are meant to be invested and multiplied, not hoarded away and crumbling to nothing.
This week I challenge you to first, practice gratefulness by listing things you are thankful for in your prayers. As you go about your day, on the way to class, eating lunch with friends, or studying in the library, just keep adding to that list. Keep a running monologue in your brain saying, “I am thankful for the sunrise I saw over Ford, I am thankful for the deer in front of Cook, I am thankful for the green apples in the Dining Hall, I am thankful for my classmate who let me borrow a pencil, and I am oh so thankful I found a parking spot behind Evans when it was so packed.” Your gratitude does not have to always focus on deep and important things! Practicing contentment and gratitude has to start with small steps, just like anything else. Just be honest with God and tell him exactly what you’re thankful for that day. Second, be passionate and diligent in your daily activities! Even though doing laundry or filing paperwork or counting change may not seem very glorifying to God, think of these tasks as ways to use the resources He has given you to help others and by extension, glorify His name.
Bebo Saucier is a freshman English and Secondary Education major from Chattanooga, Tennessee. She really enjoys the arts and does a lot of drawing, painting, writing poems, and singing in her free time. In high school choir, she sang tenor and considers that the peak of her success.