During the pandemic-caused isolation last fall and winter, my husband and I kept busy with home maintenance and renovations.
We did not knock down any walls, but we repainted, repaired, and generally did anything we could around the house to keep sane and busy. We know there were many others doing the same because when we went to the building supply store or home center, there were always lines of customers waiting to enter.
Why weren’t we all just sitting home watching TV? I believe that’s because God has work for us to do.
Since the Garden of Eden, where Adam’s job was to take care of the animals and crops, God has given man wonderful satisfaction from a good day’s work. Even in retirement, I am happy with the volunteer work God has blessed me to do, so that I may find that same satisfaction.
Readers have probably noticed that today, I have been considering what makes me content.
I have always been an intensely hard worker. That probably stems from my father telling me that he appreciated employees who never sat down and were always looking for more to do the most. My dad’s views are what likely set me on my course as an employee.
I would be the one running here and there, getting tasks done, working two jobs at times when necessary, and normally producing the work of two people. I might have been hyperventilating while I got the job done, but at the end of the day, I was content that I put in a good day’s work. I was not content during the workday; I was always striving to get things accomplished, but that striving led to contentment at the end of the day. A job well done - for the Lord. (Col. 3:23).
Consider my sister, who is content in a position where, unless God intervened, I could and would never find contentment.
She has two grown children, one of whom was born with cerebral palsy. John, who's in his 40s, is non-verbal and can do little for himself. If you would see my sister’s face while caring for her son, you would think she was an angel who came to earth.
John cannot eat a meal without the food being cut into tiny pieces so he won’t choke. I believe my sister has had limited hot meals in her life since John was born because she always tends to his needs first.
Never have I heard a complaint or even a hint that she is burdened beyond others. She strives to get John the help she can.
She got him through high school and found work he could do that gave him contentment. She tackles insurance companies, doctors, and the state for his sake. In striving for John, she has found contentment with the job God has given her, and she depends on God to keep her on track.
Recently, I read about the Afghanistan refugees being plucked from their country that has dry deserts and tall mountains and being brought to New Jersey, among other foreign lands. Can you imagine being overwhelmed upon arriving in a country that does not look or smell like yours, where few people speak your language, dress like you, and where most people likely don't understand you or your people?
Surely, the simple security of their "things" was left behind - friends, religious groups, jobs. The refugees are getting another chance to live securely, but how far away is their contentment with their current situation? I would love to know. It is certainly a situation that would lead me to pray for guidance.
I pray the refugees can find contentment here, in America. I understand many Afghans have worked to assist our government, and some are Christians who got out even as persecution against them began. As they strive to learn a new way of life, I pray they will find the Lord's contentment in America.
Our nation's history tells us about the many people who have come into our country from lands not at all like this, needed to learn a new language, how to purchase food, and how to get a job. I am impressed by those that came and still come, striving for a new and better life for themselves and their families.
My friend’s mother still speaks English with such a strong Italian accent that her words must be translated for me to understand. Yet, this woman worked and raised her family here and made a better life for not just them, but for me, too. What a blessing she is, and she also feels blessed.
How does contentment come about with all this striving? I like the way the Apostle Paul said, "I have learned to be content, regardless of my circumstance.”
Paul was content where God placed him because he was working for God, the Lord Almighty. He was beaten and thrown in jail while he was preaching, but he was content in his soul, the abode of contentment.
I pray we find that mix between striving and contentment that the Lord intended for us, so we strive to do what is needed to move to that place (the new and better land, if you will) where the Lord is in charge of our lives and is giving us a chance for a new and better life. It takes knowledge and trust in the Him to get there. It takes the same earnest striving the refugees must now expend in their new land.
I pray God gives us His blessings this week as we seek our contentment in Him.
ED. NOTE: Amy Patsch writes from Ocean City.