I haven't written about contentment lately, and it is about due time... We have been here for three months and I thought I would have detoxed by now. But, I haven't. I was thinking about it today, why at times it is easy to feel depressed here. I think it dawned on me that the poverty and the pain that we are exposed to everyday is oppressive. It messes with your mind and your heart more than you can really understand. It is like a weight. Everywhere you go you see people amassed in desperation and lostness. I had an 18 year old double orphan come to my gate awhile back. He knew Glenn and is just looking for a break. He needs a job. He needs a place to stay. He has been staying with family and others and they want him out and you can just see it in his eyes. Speaking of his eyes, he had a glass lens break the other day. I bought him a new one, and it turned out that it wasn't the same kind. So one lens was the kind that gets dark with the sun comes out and the other is one that is light. So, with the sun is out (pretty much all the time) he has one dark glass and one light glass. It is humilating and hopeless because he has no way to fix it. It is the story of his life. One bad break after another... And when you get to know someone like this, and this is a pretty mild one compared to most, your heart becomes heavy.
So, all of this should make one content, but instead what it does it makes you want to run back to comfort and safety. Jesus says in John 12:8 "The poor you will always have with you..." But, I never did have them and their issues and their pain and their sorrow with me until now. And to be honest, I don't like it. For example, it is so difficult living with poor people who are working for you like our guards and our house help do every day. They watch every move you make and they see how you live and eat. And mind you, we are not living luxuriously over here by any means, but having a car and a house and a washing machine sets you apart. You are in the top 5% if you have a car. So, there is no blending here. All that to say, I miss America for all the wrong reasons. I want to live temporarily, I want to live for comfort, and I don't want to live is Christ and to die is gain. It is is easy to say it, but when you have to live it your body screams, "I give up!" I can preach it all I want, but when I got here and I have to live it, my body reacts in as a baby does who is having to be weaned.
I think that is why contentment is so important because it is like an alarm that warns of misappropriated trust, false worship and a citizenship that is not in heaven but on earth. Discontent shows that you are dependent upon circumstances to satisfy when it never can and it is an x-ray of the soul's true condition. I have learned the secret of being content, Paul writes. I haven't, Steve writes. But, I think realizing it is half the battle. And now, I press on with the belief and the words of scripture that tell me that joy of Jesus can make me full. I believe that for the joy set before Jesus, it enabled him to despise the shame and it can help me, too. I believe that the joy in my trials will lead me to maturity. I believe that the kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking, but about righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. I believe that He is able keep me from stumbling and to present me blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy. Contentment leads to joy. Joy brings contentment. You can't be content without being joyful and you can be joyful without being content.