PERHAPS one of the most-often quoted memory verses in the Bible is Psalms 23:1. It states: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
God’s assurance: “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not feat the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you” (Psalms 91:4-7).
With God watching over you, is there anything you fear? He will always be with you and for you. All you need to do is be content! Contentment is finding as many benefits for not getting what you want as you do for getting what you want. He who is content has enough but he who complains has too much. Which are you then?
I was reminded of a thought-provoking piece written by Ruth Senter in the book, “Startled by Silence.” Instead of defining what contentment is, she related a story that defines the word:
“I heard the voice but couldn’t see the person. She was on the other side of the locker, just coming in from her early morning swim. Her voice sounded like the morning itself – bright, cheerful, and full of life. At 6:15 in the morning, it would catch anyone’s attention. I heard its affirming tone.
“‘Delores, I really appreciated the book you picked up for me last week. I know the library was out of your way. I haven’t been able to put the book down. Solzhenitsyn is a great writer. I’m glad you suggested him to me.’
“‘Good morning, Pat,’ she greeted another swimmer. For a moment, the melodious voice was silent, then I heard it again. ‘Have you ever seen such a gorgeous day! I spied a pair of meadow-larks as I walked over this morning. Makes you glad you’re alive, doesn’t it?’
“The voice was too good to be true. Who can be that thankful at this time of the morning? Her voice had a note of refinement to it. Probably some rich woman who has nothing to do all day but sip tea on her verandah and read Solzhenitsyn. I suppose I could be cheerful at 6 A.M. if I could swim and read my way through the day. Probably even owns a cottage in the north woods.
“I rounded the corner toward the showers and came face to face with the youthful voice. She was just packing her gear. Her yellow housekeeping uniform hung crisp and neat on her fiftyish frame. It was a uniform I’d seen before — along with mops, brooms, dust cloths, and buckets. An employee of the facility at which I swam. She flashed a smile my way, picked up her plastic K-mart shopping bag, and hurried out the door, spreading ‘have a glorious day’ benedictions as she went.
“I still had the yellow uniform on my mind as I swam my laps and sank down among the foamy lather of the whirlpool. My two companions were deep in conversation. At least one of them was. His tired, sad voice told tragic woes of arthritic knees, a heart aneurysm, sleepless nights, and pain-filled days.
“Nothing was good or right. The water was too hot, the whirlpool jets weren’t strong enough for his stiff knees, and his doctors had been much too slow in diagnosing his case. With his diamond-studded hand, he wiped the white suds out of his face. He looked ancient, but I suspected he too was fiftyish.
“The yellow uniform and the diamond-studded ring stood out in striking, silent contrast, proof to me again that when God says, ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain,’ He really means it. This morning, I saw both contentment and discontent. I resolved never to forget.”
B.C. Forbes once said: “It may be all right to be content with what you have; never with what you are.” But in these days of crass materialism and information highway, everyone seems to be in a hurry — going somewhere. It seems no one is content anymore. People want to have more things in life which actually they don’t need at all.
Again, allow me to share this note sent to me by a friend via e-mail (yes, handwritten letters seem to be out of fashion!). It may be ironic but it’s true:
“We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wide highways but narrow viewpoints. We spend more, but have less. We buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families’ more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees, but less common sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.
“We spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get angry too quickly, read too seldom, and watch TV and video too much. We talk too much, love too seldom, and lie too often.
“We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years.
“We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’re cleaning up the air, but polluting the spirit. We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less.
“We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We have more income, but less ethics; more leisure and less fun; more kinds of foods, but less nutrition; more acquaintances, but fewer friends; more effort but less success.
“We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication. We’ve become long on quantity, but short on quality.
“These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men and short character; steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but also of domestic violence. It is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom.
“These are the days of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are the days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away self-respect, one-night stands, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.”
For a contented life, what do you really need? Here’s what one wise man said: “Health enough to make work a pleasure. Wealth enough to support your needs. Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them. Grace enough to confess our sins and forsake them. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished. Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor. Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others. Faith enough to make real the things of God. Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.”