Last month, graduates walked across their virtual Zoom stages to end a significant chapter in their lives and step into the unknown. It clearly wasn’t how they dreamed this day would happen, but the emotions that came with this year’s graduation were no less significant. The closing of chapters and...
Hello. My name is Meghan, and I am often not an outstanding example of contentment.
I’ve been on this earth for 26 years. For the majority of my life, I’ve been puzzled by mysterious illnesses and chronic ailments that have riddled my front lawn with “Do not cross” signs. It’s often felt like I’m being held back from doing what I love and living “a normal life.”
The Mud and the Mire
From asthma to esophagitis, digestive complications to adrenal fatigue, an inability to lose weight to perpetual headaches, chronic fatigue to endometriosis, the ailments are still ongoing. I’ve beat myself up over my body, the body I’ve so often hated, for having those problems and numerous others.
Almost three years ago, breathing was such a struggle, I could hardly sleep or function. My cement lungs were a constant reminder of fear as I struggled to remain calm and pull in air. What was called my “emergency inhaler” for asthma was completely ineffective.
Every day, I experienced stabbing pains in my stomach, chest, and back, and neurological symptoms were also causing me to feel as though ants were crawling all over my body and under my skin, biting me. Every part of my body seemed to ache and groan.
Bewildered doctors said I “just” had anxiety or severe seasonal allergies, which only made my anxiety spread and my depression worsen. Months later, I would start treatment for Lyme disease.
To top it off with a moldy maraschino cherry and sour whipped cream, I went through a devastating breakup, the place I was living was infested with mice, and family members were experiencing their own hardships. I didn’t know what to do with my life, how I could physically do anything, let alone work and make a living at my full-time job to support myself and pay off student loans and medical bills.
Lifted from the Pit
During these desperate times, God drew me close to his side. It was during those seemingly endless days, months, and years that God made it clear he was reaching out and showing me love—that he was my Rock at the bottom, keeping me from sinking deeper into despair.
As for God, his way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength; he has made my way safe. (Psalm 18:30-32)
He was there to comfort me, and he—hope incarnate—was the only hope I had. Whenever I began to slip into sorrow, he revived and spoke to me through a powerful verse, an encouraging song, a relevant message, or a visit from a loved one. He is the One who drew near on those lonely and scary nights. He claimed me as his own, comforted me, and gave me hope when I would have otherwise had none. And when I cried out to him, asking him to bring me home, he carried me through the tempestuous storms instead.
When we’re faced with hardships, the realization of our humble need for a solid source of help and hope hits the hardest. Although we will have pain in this world, Jesus went through it all, and hung on the cross to save us, to give us a firm foundation. We can believe in more than just wishful thinking because the One who overcame the world is our source of strength.
Jesus rescues us from the clutches of discontent, despair, and death. He is our light in the darkest of times.
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3)
It’s easy to assume life would finally be joyous and a state of contentment would be reached if such-and-such happened, or so-and-so came into our lives, or we acquired this or that. The truth is, that isn’t the case; but it can be extremely difficult to convince ourselves otherwise.
Until we’re finally in the Lord’s presence, we won’t find total contentment; but with the help of his Holy Spirit, we can experience more of his presence, joy, and peace here on earth. We can see the world with a glory-filled perspective. We can choose to believe his promises and see situations through the lens of his Word. We can choose hearts of gratitude and trust because we know he has a perfect plan.
O Lord my God, you have done many miracles for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. (Psalm 40:5)
Personal afflictions can bring out the worst or the best in people; I’ve experienced both spectrums. We’ll either grow bitter and hopeless, angry and defeated, or Jesus himself will fill us with hope, gratefulness, and, dare I say, contentment—peace in his will, in however he chooses to use us and tell his story through our experiences. They can be the most heart-hardening periods in our lives, or the most softening and moldable.
Cry Out to the Lord
Jesus showed me during those physically, mentally, and emotionally draining times how there are always innumerable blessings to be thankful and praise God for. When we trust in his power and love and enter into his presence with thanksgiving, we will be led to the miracle of contentment.
Gratitude and worship are directly tied to contentment. Praise showcases an active trust in our Father, and that’s the best way to invite him to work in us and shower his blessings over us—yes, even if they’re not the blessings we initially asked for.
You may not prefer your situation, but you can find peace and joy through Jesus Christ. Call on him for help, and in his perfect timing, he’ll send it to you. You can depend on him.
The ropes of death surrounded me; the floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death itself stared me in the face. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears. (Psalm 18:4-6)