I will give thanks to Your name for Your unfailing love and faithfulness, because Your promises are backed by all the honor of Your name (Psalm 138:2, NLT).
Friend to Friend
I love money-back guarantees. We once bought a car to replace a van that had 125,000 miles on it. Our first vacation in the new car was a disaster. We began having trouble the very first day. On our way home, we stopped in four different cities, trying to find a mechanic who could repair the car. No one could explain or even find the problem. Needless to say, we were not happy campers. But when we returned home and contacted the dealership, we were told that because of the guarantee on the car, we could get our money back or trade it in for another one. Loved it!
Did you know that every promise of God is backed His name? Here it is in Psalm 138:2: “I will give thanks to Your name for Your unfailing love and faithfulness, because Your promises are backed by all the honor of Your name” (nlt).Now if those words are true, why do we find it so hard to experience true peace and contentment in our lives?
I know life can be hard. Some of you are in so much pain that it is almost a grueling task to just breath. But God knows where you are and what you are going through – and you really can trust Him. The apostle Paul had a firm grip on this truth when he wrote:
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:11b-12, NIV).
Paul understood and lived by the truth that God is constantly at work in and around us, monitoring every step we take. Paul examined every circumstance, understanding that it had already passed through His Father’s hands - with His permission. God came through for Paul, and He will come through for you. To find real security and contentment, we must learn to search for the handprints of God in the every day circumstances of life.
Paul had every human right to be angry with God. After all, Paul had been faithful. He had given up much and endured great pain. And yet the undercurrent theme of this passage is gratitude. Notice that it is an attitude chosen by Paul. It is a learned perspective. In this verse, “learned” implies that Paul was educated by experience. In other words, Paul was saying that all of his experiences in life, good and bad, had become his tutor in contentment.
The word content can best be defined as contained. Don’t miss this truth. Paul had trained himself to focus on his inner resources, the resources his heart contained, rather than the outward circumstances of his life. He chose to be grateful. He chose to praise God – period. We hear his determination in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 when he says, “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (nlt).
There is an old poem that captures this idea well.
“I rejoice in knowing that
There is no oil without squeezing the olives,
No wine without pressing the grapes,
No fragrance without crushing the flowers
And no real joy without sorrow.” (Author unknown)
Gratitude not only brings contentment, it yields perseverance and produces strength. God entrusts trials to us, giving us the opportunity to choose gratitude. It is easy to practice gratitude when the seas are calm and the skies are clear, but the real test of gratitude is in the midst of the greatest storm of our lives.
In Africa there is a fruit called the “taste berry.” When eaten it changes a person’s taste buds so that everything tastes good and sweet. Gratitude is the “taste berry” in our spiritual lives. When our hearts are filled with gratitude, we will find contentment. Choose to practice gratitude.
Gratitude is wrapped around trust and contains the element of acceptance. Gratitude understands that God is sovereign and that His ways are not our ways. There will be times when we find it impossible to understand His process, but we can always trust His heart. Remember, you can count on every promise of God.
Father, I come to You, confessing that I tend to have a heart that is filled with whining and complaining instead of gratitude. Please forgive me. Help me learn to see Your hand at work in my life. I want to trust You even when I don’t understand my circumstances. Right now, I choose to praise You, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
By faith, accept the truth that God is always at work in your life and thank Him for His steadfast provision. Look back over the last few days, weeks and months. Now praise Him for the things He has done.
Read Proverbs 3:5-6. What are the steps listed in this passage that – when taken – will produce contentment?
More from the Girlfriends
If you or someone you love struggles with depression, Mary’s book, Hope in the Midst of Depression, offers practical steps you can take to experience God’s deliverance from that pit and live a life of victory.