Divine Providence and Contentment

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31

“The art of contentment is a right knowledge of God’s providence.”

Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646), in his book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, points out that a correct understanding of God’s providence is needed for spiritual contentment in the face of the trials and difficulties of life as a Christian.

Here is a good theological definition of divine providence: “It is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. The doctrine of divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe as a whole (Psalm 103:19), the physical world (Matthew 5:45), the affairs of nations (Psalm 66:7), human destiny (Galatians 1:15), human successes and failures (Luke 1:52), and the protection of His people (Psalm 4:8). This doctrine stands in direct opposition to the idea that the universe is governed by chance or fate.” https://www.gotquestions.org/divine-providence.html

Burroughs explains three ways that a proper understanding of God’s providence can influence our contentment:

Providence is universal—“The soul must be thoroughly instructed in providence to come to the art of contentment. Not only that God by his providence rules the world and governs all things in general, but that it reaches to every detail; not only to order the great affairs of kingdoms, but it reaches to every man’s family; it reaches to every person in the family; it reaches to every condition; yea, to every happening, to everything that falls out concerning you in every particular: not one hair falls from your head, not a sparrow to the ground, without the providence of God. There is nothing that befalls you but there is a hand of God in it—this is from God and is a great help in contentment.”

Providence is efficacious [effective; successful in producing its desired or intended result]—“Suppose we are discontented and vexed and troubled, and we fret and rage, yet we need not think that we will alter the course of providence by our discontent. I may say to every discontented, impatient heart: What, shall the providence of God change its course for you? Do you think that because it does not please you it must alter its course? Whether or not you are content, the providence of God will go on. It has an efficacy of power, of virtue, to carry all things before it. Can you make one hair black or white with all the stir that you are making? When you are in a ship at sea which has all its sails spread with a full gale of wind, and is swiftly sailing, can you make it stand still by running up and down in the ship? No more can you make the providence of God alter and change its course with your vexing and fretting; it will go on with power, do what you can. But understand the power and efficacy of providence and it will be a mighty means helping you to learn this lesson of contentment.”

Providence has infinite variety, all working together—“There is an infinite variety of the works of God in ordinary providence, and yet they all work in an orderly way. We put these two things together: for God in his providence causes a thousand thousand things to depend on upon another. There are an infinite number of wheels, as I may say, in the works of providence. God may have some work to do twenty years hence that depends on this passage of providence that falls out in your life this day or this week. Let me therefore be quiet and content, for though I am crossed in some one particular thing, God attains his end; at least his end may be furthered in a thousand things by this one thing that I am crossed in. Therefore let a man consider that this is an act of providence. How do I know what God is about to do, and how many things the Lord may have his work go on in general, in a thousand other things?”

 

The Determination to Serve

[Jesus] “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:6-8

The Determination to Serve

From My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers *

“Paul’s idea of service is the same as Our Lord’s: ‘I am among you as He that serveth’; ‘ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.’ We have an idea that a man called to the ministry is called to be a different kind of being from other men. According to Jesus Christ, he is called to be the ‘doormat’ of other men; their spiritual leader, but never their superior. ‘I know how to be abased,’ says Paul. This is Paul’s idea of service: ‘I will spend myself for the last ebb for you; you may give me praise or you  may give me blame, it will make no difference. So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does.’

“The mainspring of Paul’s service is not love for men, but love for Jesus Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed or broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow man.

“Paul’s realization of how Jesus Christ had dealt with him is the secret of his determination to serve others. “I was before a perjurer, a blasphemer, an injurious person’—no matter how men may treat me, they will never treat me with the spite and hatred with which I treated Jesus Christ. When we realize that Jesus Christ has served us to the end of our meanness, our selfishness, and sin, nothing that we meet from others can exhaust our determination to serve men for His sake.”

 

* Oswald Chambers (1874—1917) was an early-twentieth-century Scottish Baptist and Holiness Movement evangelist and teacher, best known for the devotional My Utmost for His Highest.

Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Chambers moved with his family in 1876 to Stoke-on-Trent when his father, Clarence Chambers, became Home Missions evangelist for the North Staffordshire Baptist Association. At age sixteen, Oswald Chambers was baptized and became a member of Rye Lane Baptist Chapel. Even as a teenager, Chambers was noted for his deep spirituality and he participated in the evangelization of poor occupants of local lodging houses.

While studying art in Edinburgh, he felt called to ministry and he left for Dunoon College, a small theological training school near Glasgow. Chambers was soon teaching classes at the school and took over much of the administration. Thereafter he spoke at evangelistic meetings in Great Britain and spent a semester teaching at God’s Bible School, a Holiness institution in Cincinnati, Ohio, then spent a few months in Japan working with the Oriental Missionary Society. Sailing back to the United States in 1908, Chambers became better acquainted with Gertrude Hobbs, the daughter of friends, whom he had known casually. They married in 1910. Chambers considered ministry a partnership in which Biddy—who could take shorthand at 250 words per minute—would transcribe and type his sermons and lessons into written form.

In 1911 Chambers founded and was principal of the Bible Training College in Clapham Common, Greater London. In 1915, a year after the outbreak of World War I, Chambers suspended the operation of the school and was accepted as a YMCA chaplain. He was assigned to Zeitoun, Cairo, Egypt, where he ministered to Australian and New Zealand troops, who later participated in the Battle of Gallipoli. Chambers raised the spiritual tone of a center intended by both the military and the YMCA to be simply an institution of social service providing wholesome alternatives to the brothels of Cairo. Soon his wooden-framed “hut” was packed with hundreds of soldiers listening attentively to messages such as “What Is the Good of Prayer?” Confronted by a soldier who said, “I can’t stand religious people,” Chambers replied, “Neither can I.”

Chambers was stricken with appendicitis on 17 October 1917, but resisted going to a hospital on the grounds that the beds would be needed by men wounded in the Third Battle of Gaza. On 29 October, a surgeon performed an emergency appendectomy; however, Chambers died 15 November 1917 from a pulmonary hemorrhage. He was buried in Cairo with full military honors.

For the remainder of her life—and at first under very straitened circumstances—Chambers’ widow transcribed and published books and articles edited from the notes she had taken in shorthand during the Bible College years and in Cairo, Egypt. Most successful of the thirty books was My Utmost for His Highest (1924). The work has never been out of print and has been translated into 39 languages.

 

A Believer Objects – “But I’m OK!”

 

In the 1960s, a pop psychology book titled I’m OK-You’re OK by Thomas A. Harris topped the NYT best-seller list for years. It promoted healthy human relations based on transactional negotiations between individuals of various personality types. Fifty years later, this transactional concept of human relations permeates American society. Children are taught to use self-acceptance, self-love, self-worth, and other concepts to build up their half of the transaction (“I’m OK”). The result after fifty years is an American population characterized by conceit, pride, and self-importance. In spite of this mantra of self-love, few people are truly content. We would be forced to admit to ourselves (maybe reluctantly)—“I’m not OK!” In light of our sinful nature, this has never been a popular view.

In  this short piece, Jeremiah Burroughs (he lived 1599-1646) points us to another aspect of his formula for spiritual contentment that is completely opposite from the transactional model promoted by Harris—“I’m not OK! I am the problem!” King Solomon observed what life was like “under the sun,” a term for a life apart from God. Vain, empty, worthless, pointless, hopeless describes a person (and a society) who has pushed God out of his/her thoughts.

“The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. ‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun?” Ecclesiastes 1:1-3 (NKJV)

Burroughs offers this insight:

“The vanity of the creature—Whatever there is in the creature has an emptiness to it. ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,’ is the lesson that a wise man learned; the creature in itself can do us no good; it is all but as wind. There is nothing in the creature that is suitable for a gracious heart to feed upon for its good or happiness. My brethren, the reason why you have not got contentment in the things of this world is not because you have not got enough of them—that is not the reason—but the reason is, because they are not things proportionable [suitable, appropriate] to that immortal soul of yours that is capable of God Himself.

“You would be happy and you seek after such and such comforts in the creature. Well, have you got them? Do you find your hearts satisfied as having the happiness that is suitable to you? No, no, it is not here but you think that is because you lack such and such things. O poor deluded man! It is not because you have not got enough of it, but because it is not the thing that is proportionable to the immortal soul that God has given you. ‘Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?’ (Isaiah 55:2) You are mad people. You seek to satisfy your stomach with that which is not bread, you follow the wind; you will never have contentment.”

The glorified Jesus Christ said this to the Laodicean church: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;’ and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” Revelation 3:16-17

A Wealthy Believer Objects

“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”  II Corinthians 4:10-11

Last week we saw how two wealthy believers reacted differently to the sudden loss of their wealth. The carnal man became depressed and discontented while the spiritual man remained content because he understood God’s purpose. Today, Jeremiah Burroughs addresses an objection of the carnal man who was distressed at his loss – Why did this happen to me? I could serve God better with my wealth if He had let me keep it!

The carnal man’s objection misses God’s ultimate purpose in the lives of believers. While God certainly wants us to honor Him with what He has given us (wealth, health, skills, intelligence, social status, etc.), that is not His higher purpose: to manifest Jesus Christ in the world. regardless of our wealth, health, skills, intelligence, social status, etc. The fact is that God doesn’t need those things to reveal who He is to those around us. God wants to work in and through us to make His glory known to the world and to draw souls to Himself. The spiritual man in Burrough’s illustration understands God’s purpose.

“You must know that the special honor which God has from his creatures in this world is the manifestation of the graces of his Spirit. It is true that God gets a great deal of honor when a man is in a public place, and so is able to do a great deal of good, to countenance godlessness, and discountenance sin, but the main thing is in our showing forth the virtues of him who has called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light. (I Peter 2:9b)

“If I can say that, through God’s mercy in my affliction, I find the graces of God’s Spirit working as strongly in me as ever they did when I had my wealth, I am where I was; indeed, I am in quite as good a condition, for I have the same good now that I had in my prosperous estate. I reckoned the good of it only in my enjoyment of God, and honoring of God, and now God has blessed the lack of it to stir up the graces of his Spirit in my soul.

“This is the work that God calls me to now, and I must consider God to be the most honored when I do the work that he calls me to; he set me to work in my prosperous estate to honor him at that time in that condition, and now he sets me to work to honor him at this time in this condition; God is most honored when I can turn from one condition to another, according as he calls me to it.”

Two Wealthy Men

 

“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.” Job 1:20-22

It is a mystery to me that Christians can view wealth in such contrasting ways. A brief story from Jeremiah Burroughs illustrates how two wealthy Christian men (one carnal and one spiritual) view their wealth and prosperity differently. Jesus told a parable that addressed the folly of a man consumed with his riches. The parable in Luke 12:16-23 did not end well for this man:  “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20-21) The second man in Burroughs’ illustration is spiritually content and when he loses his wealth is equally content as when he was rich. What a difference!

“If there is any good in wealth or in any comfort in this world, it is not so much that it pleases my sense or that it suits my body, but that it has reference to God, the First Being, that by these substances somewhat of God’s goodness might be conveyed to me, and I may have a sanctified use of the substance to draw me nearer to God, that I may enjoy more of God, and be made more serviceable for His glory in the place where He has set me: this is the good of the substance.

“Suppose that a man had great wealth only a few years ago, and now it is all gone. I would only ask this man, ‘When you had your wealth, in what did you reckon the good of that wealth to consist?’ A carnal heart would say, ‘Anybody might know that. It brought me in so much a year, and I could have the best fare, and be a man of repute in the place where I live, and men regard what I said; I might be clothed as I would, and lay up portions for my children: the good of my wealth consisted of this.’ “Now such a man never came into the school of Christ to know in what the good of an estate consisted, so no marvel if he is disquieted when he has lost his estate.

But when a Christian, who has been in the school of Christ, and has been instructed in the art of contentment, has some wealth, he thinks, ‘In that I have wealth above my brethren, I have an opportunity to serve God the better, and I enjoy a great deal of God’s mercy conveyed on my soul through the substance, and hereby I am enabled to do a great deal of good. In this I reckon the good of my wealth. And now that God has taken this away from me, if He will be pleased to make up the enjoyment of Himself some other way, will call me to honor Him by suffering, and if I may do God as much service now by suffering, that is by showing forth the grace of His Spirit in my sufferings as I did in prosperity, I have as much of God as I had before. So if I may be left to God in my low condition, as much as I was in my prosperous condition, I have as much comfort and contentment as I had before.’”

 

The Believer is a Sojourner in the World

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6:14

In his book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs observes that contentment comes only when the believer understands his relationship to the world. He explains, “By that I mean as follows: God comes to instruct the soul effectually through Christ by His Spirit, on what terms it lives here in the world, in what relation it stands. While I live in the world, my condition is to be but a pilgrim, a stranger, a traveler, and a soldier. …God has set me in this world, not as in my home but as a mere stranger and a pilgrim who is traveling to another home, and that I am here a soldier in my warfare. I say that a right understanding of this is a mighty help to contentment in whatever befalls one.”

“When you are at sea, though you have  not as many things as you have at home, you are not troubled at it; you are contented. Why? Because you are at sea. Thus it should be for us in this world, for the truth is, we are all in this world but as seafaring men,, tossed up and down on the waves of the sea of this world, and our haven is Heaven here we are traveling, and our home is a distant home in another world. We are going away to another country; you are as it were, only lodging here for a night. If you were to live a hundred years, in comparison to eternity, it is not as much as a night, it is as though you are traveling and had come to an inn.”

“Then again, we are not only travelers, but soldiers; this is the condition in which we are here in this world and therefore we ought to behave ourselves accordingly. The Apostle Paul makes us of this argument in writing to Timothy, ‘Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,’ (II Timothy 2:3) When a soldier is away, he does not enjoy such comforts in his quarters as he has in his own home. He must lie out in the fields when he is a soldier and the very thought of the condition in which he stands calms him in all things. This only suitable to the condition in which God has put him. What an unseemly thing it would be to see a soldier go whining up and down with his finger in his eye, complaining that he does not have hot meat at every meal and his bed warmed as he had at home!”

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2

 

Contentment in the Strength of Another

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

Jeremiah Burroughs continues on the mysteries of contentment… “There is still a further mystery, for I hope you will find this a very useful point and that before we have finished you will see how simple it is for one who is skilled in religion to get contentment, though it is hard for one who is carnal.

“I say that another mystery in contentment is this: A gracious heart has contentment by getting strength from Jesus Christ; he is able to bear his burdens by getting strength from someone else. Now this is a riddle, and it would be counted ridiculous in the schools of the philosophers to say. If there is a burden on you you must get strength from someone else.

“A Christian finds satisfaction in every circumstance by getting strength from another, by going out of himself to Jesus Christ, by his faith acting upon Christ, and by bringing the strength of Jesus Christ into his own soul, he is thereby enabled to bear whatever God lays on him, by the strength that he finds from Jesus Christ.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

 “…strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” Colossians 1:11

“Indeed, our afflictions may be heavy, and we cry out, ‘Oh, we cannot bear them, we cannot bear such affliction!’ Though you cannot tell how to bear with your own strength, yet how can tell what you will do with the strength of Jesus Christ? You say you cannot bear it? So you think that Christ could not bear it?

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted [tested, tried] as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV)

“But if Christ could bear it, why may you not come to bear it? You will say, ‘Can I have the strength of Christ?’ Yes, it is made over to you by faith: the Scripture says that the Lord is our strength, God himself is our strength and Christ is our strength.”

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

“Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:4

 

The Dew of God’s Blessing

“A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.”  Psalm 133

Jeremiah Burroughs likens the blessings of God to the refreshing dew that covers lush vegetation in the morning. This refreshing mist is given to us freely by God as a blessing from His hand. How can we not be content with whatever He has graciously given us, whether much or little?

The contented Christian lives upon the dew of God’s blessing. The simile of a grasshopper describes the contented man, and says he has this motto, ‘I am content with what I have, and hope for better.’ The grasshopper leaps and skips up and down and lives on the dew. A grasshopper does not live on the grass as other things do; you do not know what it feeds on. Other things though as little as grasshoppers , feed upon seeds or little flies and such things, but as for the grasshopper, you do now know what it feeds upon. In the same way, a Christian can get food that the world does not know of; he is fed in a secret way by the dew of the blessings of God.”

What we have from God is a token of His love for us. “If a king were to send a piece of meat from his own table, it would be a great deal more pleasant to a courtier than if twenty dishes as an ordinary allowance; if the king sends even a little thing and says, ‘Go and carry it to that man as a token of my love,’ Oh, how delightful that would be to him!”

What we have from God is sanctified to us for good. “Other men have what they enjoy in the way of common providence, but the saints have it in a special way. There is a secret dew that goes along with it: the dew of God’s love. A gracious heart has what he has free of cost; he is not called to pay for it. Grace shows a man that what he has, he has free of cost, from God as from a Father, and therefore it must needs be very sweet. A godly man may very well be content, though he has only a little, for what he does have he has by right of Jesus Christ, by the purchase of Jesus Christ.”

Every bit of bread you eat, if you are a godly man or woman, Jesus Christ has bought it for you. You have it at the hands of men for money, but Christ has bought it at the hand of His Father. Certainly it is a great deal better and sweeter now, though it is but a little.” Indeed, even with few possessions or comforts,  “…godliness with contentment is great gain.” II Timothy 6:6

 

Metamorphosing the Affliction

“It is not so much the removing of the affliction that is upon us as the changing of the affliction, the metamorphosing of the affliction, so that it is quite turned and changed into something else.” – Jonathan Burroughs

In this example of the mystery of contentment, Burroughs focuses on a financial affliction—poverty, loss of employment, hunger, eviction, economic ruin. He encourages the believer to approach such an affliction with a gracious, spirit-filled attitude and seek a positive good through the affliction. The carnal believer looks for a quick and easy way out of the problem; the gracious believer asks God for divine help to grow spiritually through the trial.

 “I mean in regard to the use of it, though for the thing itself the affliction remains. The way of contentment to a carnal heart is only the removing of the affliction. ‘O that it may be gone!’ ‘No,’ says the gracious heart, ‘God has taught me a way to be content though the affliction itself still continues.’ There is a power of grace to turn this affliction into good; it takes away the sting and poison of it.

“Take the case of poverty when a man’s possessions are lost: Well, is there no way to be content until your possessions are made up again? Till your poverty is removed? Yes, certainly! Christianity would teach contentment, though poverty continues. It will teach you how to turn your poverty to spiritual riches.

“There is a saying… ‘Even poverty itself is riches to holy men.’ Godly men make their poverty turn to riches; they get more riches out of poverty than they do out of their revenues. Out of all their trading in this world they never had such incomes as they have had out of their poverty. This, a carnal heart will think, is strange: that a man shall make poverty the most gainful trade that ever he had in the world. I am persuaded that many Christians have found it so, that they have got more good by their poverty, than ever they got by all their riches.

“Therefore, think it not strange what I am speaking of. You do not find one godly man who came out of an affliction worse than when he went into; though for a while he was shaken, yet at last he was better for an affliction.”

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”

Psalm 119:71

Charles Spurgeon, in his magnificent commentary on the Psalms, The Treasury of David, elaborates on another aspect of affliction described by Burroughs as it applies to King David’s unique affliction in Psalm 119:71: “Even though the affliction came from bad men, it was overruled for good ends: though it was bad as it came from them, it was good for David. It benefited him in many ways, and he knew it. Whatever he may have thought while under the trial, he perceived himself to be the better for it when it was over. It was not good to the proud to be prosperous, for their hearts grew sensual and insensible; but affliction was good for the Psalmist. Our worst is better for us than the sinner’s best. It is bad for sinners to rejoice, and good for saints to sorrow. A thousand benefits have come to us through our pains and griefs, and among the rest is this — that we have thus been schooled in the law.”

 

The Mystery – Subtraction not Addition

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” I John 2:15-17 (KJV)

Some of Jeremiah Burrough’s “mysteries” about contentment may sound archaic or even contradictory, but his practical aphorisms deserve careful thought. This observation about Christian contentment is one we should consider:

“A Christian comes to contentment, not so much by way of addition, as by way of subtraction.” – Jeremiah Burroughs

The non-Christian, “…knows of no way to get contentment, but to have his possessions raised up to his desires; but the Christian has another way to contentment. That is, he can bring his desires [KJV – lusts] down to his possessions, and so he attains his contentment. The world is infinitely deceived in thinking that contentment lies in having more than we already have. Here lies the bottom and root of all contentment, when there is an evenness and proportion between our hearts and our circumstances.”

When I read this, I am forced to examine my desires against my circumstances. The cause and solution to my discontent is contained therein:

  • Is my discontent caused by my circumstances (pain, stress, loneliness, poverty, conflict, turmoil) that are too much to bear? Am I discontent because I lack something that I do not presently have? If my situation or possessions were to change, would I feel more content?

  • Or, are my desires (comfort, ease, family and friends, riches, peace and tranquility) so opposed to the actual circumstances that God has brought into my life that my desires are causing me to be discontent?

I must answer this question myself: What is the desire of my heart? Is my heart discontent because that desire is not satisfied? Could it be that my desire in life is misplaced? It’s time to do some spiritual math. That process begins with subtraction. Subtract from my desire to live a life of ease free from want or conflict. This is very difficult. However, it is possible when my desires are diminished to more closely match my circumstances and the desires of my Heavenly Father. When my heart’s desire lines up with the will of God in Jesus Christ, a new desire will overshadow and subtract from discontent with my circumstances.

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,

where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

Colossians 3:1-2 (KJV)

“If a man or woman has their [earthly] desires cut short, and have no large desires, that man or woman is rich. So this is the art of contentment; not to seek to add to our circumstances, but to subtract from our desires.” – Jeremiah Burroughs