Women of the Word - Contentment

The Women of the Word conferences are biannual gatherings where women come together to discuss important issues. At the last meeting, Anne Norrie led a discussion on the topic of “Contentment”. Here's a summary of the ideas discussed and some additional thoughts.

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV)

"If only______, I would be happy

We all have one or more desires that we believe would bring fullness to our lives. These can be money, a spouse, children, a better relationship, job, degree, good looks, etc... We see others possessing them and we convince ourselves that they are a source of contentment.

Yet how many people do we know who are truly content? Wealthy individuals and those lacking resources want more. Parents and couples without children have heartaches. Single people and married couples suffer similarly. And so on. Our ultimate desperation is to realise that we will never be able to obtain what we seek after or to finally attain what we want and then realise it leaves us discontent.

Can contentment be achieved in this life? If so, what is stopping us from obtaining it?

Paul tells us in Philippians 4:11-13 that contentment does not depend on our circumstances but can be obtained despite our difficult situations. The only reason Paul can say so is because the bible is filled with promises that God is able to provide for us. God is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. He is wise and good. He knows that giving us all the things we ask for will only make us suffer more. Our hearts desire something bigger than this life that only God will satisfy. God’s goal for us is to make us more like Christ. He gives us the circumstances that He knows will best achieve this in our lives.

The only way we can achieve contentment is to experience an inward assurance of God’s sovereignty and His goodness. He is the only eternal source of satisfaction that can quench our deepest desires. Our inability to trust God causes us to feel anxious and lack joy. But a continuous relationship with Him will help us draw waters from the everlasting life. And just as Jesus Christ found joy by surrendering to God’s will and giving up his own comfort and enduring the cross for us, we too can start looking outwardly and find contentment by serving one another.

Horatio Spafford wrote the hymn “It is well with my soul” on his way to meet his wife after their four daughters died in a shipwreck. His ability to write the hymn despite the circumstances does not mean that he did not suffer the pain of his loss but indicates to us that he looked for something much bigger that this life cannot offer.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Recommended readings

  1. The Envy of Eve by Melissa Kruger
  2. Compared to Her, Sophie de Witt
  3. The Art of Divine Contentment, Thomas Watson

Our next St Columba’s Women of the Word morning is on 30th May. We are focusing this time on encouragement through uncertain times. It will run from 10:00-11:15 am over Zoom. We will receive teaching on this topic as well as a time of testimony, discussion and prayer with one another. It will be great to be able to meet together again. The sign up details will become available here: www.stcsfc.org/wow