Jonah’s been punished this week. He lost the privilege of watching television along with playing video games for a week. Due to his punishment, he awoke Monday morning sad. He moped as he got ready for school not saying much to me and I don’t blame him. I handed down a pretty harsh sentence. Off to school he went. When he arrived home at the end of the day he asked if he could go outside and play. I was completely surprised and thrilled to hear his friend was coming over to play. He, his sister and a bunch of kids from the neighborhood played outside for about four hours. They only came in to quickly eat dinner and dash back out to play. My husband was surprised to see the activity in our cul-du-sac. When asked, Jonah said he was sad he couldn’t watch tv and play video games, but he was still having fun. Go figure.
This whole scenario reminded me of Paul and Silas in prison. “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25 NIV) They were beaten and thrown in prison and yet they praised God. They were singing away just enjoying themselves. They weren’t upset or downcast. They didn’t have bad attitudes were not sitting around feeling sorry for themselves. They took what was given to them and they offered praise to God. I would love to have that kind of joy. This story is just one instance where Paul lives out his conviction to be content in every circumstance. He and Silas were mistreated. They were beaten. They were thrown in jail and bound, yet they praised God. They sang to Him and as a result the earth shook and the prison doors flew wide open. God unlocked the door and they walked out. Hallelujah!
I can’t say I have learned to be content regardless of circumstances. In fact, if things are not as I think they should be, I am seriously discontent, even irritable. But I wonder, If God is in control of everything and each circumstance is approved by Him, then regardless, He has allowed it, right? If God has approved it, then He has permitted it in for a reason. If He has a purpose for it then I’m supposed to be learning something. If I’m supposed to be learning something then God is not far away. Instead, He is close by working and waiting for me to accept and embrace each situation. I think this might be the secret to the life of contentment. Accepting and embracing the will of God knowing we are loved. He loves us enough to make us better, not leave us in our depraved state.
I guess Paul understood the love God had for him. And I believe he accepted God’s will even when it was difficult because he had complete trust in God. Contentment is neither easy nor admirable in this world. We are continually being enticed to have more, do more and be more. We are told over and over this is what brings true peace. If we have walked through anything difficult with God then we know complete peace and contentment can only come from Him. Eventually after some kicking and screaming I usually come around. But someday I hope I can learn to be content. And maybe I will learn to be like Jonah who was sad but still having fun.