by Kristin Fuhs, Set Me Free Ministries Board Chair
I recently read a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson that said in order to achieve contentment, one should "cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and give thanks continuously." I have spent a lot of time thinking about this quote. Contentment is a complicated word with many layers and definitions. One dictionary defines contentment as this: “the state of being mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.”
Are you content with your current lot in life? I truly believe contentment is only found when we know Jesus and look to Him in our quest to be content. Contentment can't be about your current circumstance here on earth. It must be found in Jesus.
I turned to the Bible for some wisdom. It has so much to say about contentment. I like to think of contentment as being satisfied with what we have, who we are, and where we are going. But when bumps and storms arise in our life, and they will, finding that satisfaction can sometimes be difficult. This is especially true if our focus is taken away from God. We start to feel overwhelmed with circumstances and often forget that Emerson quote from above.
In Matthew 6:25, Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” This scripture is telling us to be content with what we have and to not worry about all the stuff that clouds our view on a daily basis.
Too often, I worry about the future and lose sight of the promises written for me in the Bible. In Romans 8:28, it says: “We know that all things work together for good, for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” These words remind me that I should have trust and confidence in God and that I should be satisfied with my condition regardless of what my condition is.
The next time challenges arise and discontentment creeps into your life, turn to the Love Letter God has written to you and to me. His plan is perfect, and even in tough times, we must trust Him and have grateful hearts. God is good, faithful, and loving. We must resist letting worldly challenges get in the way of living daily with the contentment found in Jesus.
So as we all head into a season of thanks, I think it is important to really focus on the things of life we have to be thankful for no matter what our circumstance. You see, each of us has a Savior who is bigger than anything that we may be facing. Our hearts must be grateful, and we must be continuously thankful for all that we have been given. Below is a list that may help you focus on being thankful and having grateful hearts. I invite you to join me in this “Grateful Heart” challenge. I am committing to it for the next couple of months. I pray that no matter what your circumstance look like, you will be able to experience a grateful heart and know that God is walking with you and loves you! Our God is mighty in all things!
Grateful Heart Challenge
1. Write down what you are thankful for every day. Call it a gratitude journal. We often naturally focus on what is wrong and not going as we would like. You will be surprised how good it is to focus on what you are thankful for and all that is right! Grateful hearts bring contentment.
2. Spend time calling, meeting with, or even writing letters or notes to people who matter most to you or whom you are grateful for in your life. Friends and family are key to grateful hearts.
3. Visit memory lane by looking though pictures, social-media posts, and other reminders of all the things that have brought joy to your life. Even when your today is not feeling awesome, there are so many days that you can focus on to remember the joy of days past and days ahead.
4. Every day do something that blesses another person. Little things matter. It can be as simple as a note, smile, compliment, or flowers just because. The pay-it-forward way of thinking is a key element to living with a grateful and thankful heart.
5. Volunteer as often as you can. Helping others cultivates a good feeling for you and for others. Volunteering is free and only requires your heart and time. This time of year there are so many places to volunteer. Just do it! When your head hits your pillow after volunteering, you will be full of thanks and contentment.
6. Read Psalm 100 every day and spend time with the Savior praising Him!
A psalm of thanksgiving.
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before Him, singing with joy.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are His.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.