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Contentment for However Long

June 4, 2020
|
preached by
Adam Rodriguez

Since November 2017, I've worked in three non-permanent jobs.

My first job was slated to last for a year, but only lasted eight months because another job fell into my lap. It was a job I'd interviewed for a few years ago, it was work I preferred, and it paid better, so I took it with almost no hesitation. That job was supposed to last for five months. A year-and-a-half later, I'd seen several extensions (I lost count), an agency transfer, a new supervisor, and one more pay raise.

Then came the day I was dreading and hoping for: the interview for the permanent position. Yes, I had to interview.

And I didn't get the job.

It wasn't entirely my fault. The agency needed the position to do different work, so they changed my position so much as to make it unrecognizable. I wasn't qualified for what they'd turned it into. But they still needed someone to do the work I'd been doing, so they moved me into the position of someone who'd recently retired because my work fit there better.

Because, Of Course, a Book

Because of this tumult, I decided to read The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. It turned out that Burroughs knew me very well.

For example, he describes a discontented person who looks content:

Many may sit silently, refraining from discontented expressions, yet inwardly they are bursting with discontented expressions. [1]

For the contented person, however, "Not only must the tongue holds its peace; the soul must be silent." Contentedness is a matter of the heart, not just the outward appearance.

I've tried to put on a brave face through this. My work situation has caused my family and I a lot of stress. But if I voiced that stress, it would just add stress to stress and show how much I distrust God. So I've tried to look content on the outside. On the inside though, sometimes I manage it and other times I don't. So the beginning of the book convicted me. That was quick.

...if I voiced that stress, it would just add stress to stress and show how much I distrust God. So I've tried to look content on the outside. On the inside though, sometimes I manage it and other times I don't.

What hit home for me more, though, was this: "There must be a submission to God in every affliction, as to the time and continuance of the affliction." He continues:

'Perhaps I could submit and be content', says someone, 'but this affliction has been on me a long time, three months, a year, many years, and I do not know how to yield and submit to it, my patience is worn out and broken. [2]

That's how I feel. My work situation has lasted two-and-a-half years so far. I had hoped after the first five months of my second position that I would be appointed permanently, but that didn't happen. Worse, I was going to have to interview for it. Then it dragged out longer and longer when they moved me in another non-permanent position. God, let it end! I just want an answer, I said, whatever it is!

Of course, that was a lie. I admitted to my life group that I didn't just want an answer. I wanted a specific answer. I would have been very upset had the answer not been the one I wanted. But speaking to that as well, Burroughs wrote:

We must not be our own disposers for the time of deliverance any more than for the kind and way of deliverance. . . . So in a holy, gracious way should a soul say, 'Well, this affliction that I am brought into, is by the hand of God, and I am content to be here till God brings me out himself.' God requires it at our hands, that we should not be willing to come out till he comes and fetches us out. [3]

So I need to trust God's will both in what the answer is and when I get it.

As I think about it, though, how ridiculous that I need to decide to trust in God. It ought to come naturally at this point. God has always been merciful to me. Without Him, I would've made a shipwreck of my life long ago. What right do I have to think that God will not do good in this case? And what right do I have to demand that God do that good in a certain form and at a certain time?

God has always been merciful to me. Without Him, I would've made a shipwreck of my life long ago. What right do I have to think that God will not do good in this case?

This Post is About Both of Us

But the point of this post isn't only to explain my struggles with contentment. The point is to tell you that you aren't alone, and that we both need these lessons.

Surely, in your life, something brings you discontent. Maybe it's a job situation. Maybe it's the lack of a job situation because of the COVID-19 crisis and a government edict. Maybe it's something else. Maybe your discontent is because of the pandemic; I know I've felt discontent from it, even if my finances haven't taken a hit.

Friend, you and I need to pray for contentment.

You and I both need to pray for inward contentment. The contented person has a contented heart as well as a contented attitude. I have the experience to know that you can't muster up that inward contentment. You cannot change your own heart. You need the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to work on it.

You cannot change your own heart. You need the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to work on it.

Not only that, but we need to pray for contentment in however long our trials will last. Maybe it will only be a week. Maybe it will be years. Either way, our trials are in God's hands.

Remember the promise of Romans 8:28-29: "We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." God is using our trials to make us more like Christ.

Rest content in that.

Footnotes

[1] Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. Public domain. Kindle version from monergism.org. Loc. 60.
[2] ibid., Loc. 324.
[3] ibid., Loc. 325, 340.

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By

Adam is a member of Coram Deo Church who serves on the music team and in the Kids Ministry. He lives in Bremerton with his wife Sarrah and their two children. He enjoys reading, writing, listening to podcasts and music, and playing guitar and games.

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