It's been a crazy last couple of months for us. Whether you've been directly affected by the virus or just indirectly in the fact that you can't go your normal places, everyone in the world has been touched by this. One thing that God has especially been teaching me through this time is how to be "settled" in Him (the title of my website), including how to give thanks more.


First, I just quickly want to say that I know this (giving thanks) is a very hard thing for many people to do right now. This isn't the primary purpose of this post, but I want to say my heart hurts for the people in the medical field watching people die alone, the people at high risk who have maybe been stuck at home alone for weeks, the same people who soon have to make the decisions about what to do to stay safe until there is a vaccine, and people who have lost their jobs and possibly their businesses forever. Those and many other things are very scary and hard situations. I think it is VERY important, if we want to truly love others well, that we acknowledge that these things are very real and challenging, as well as realize that our world as we know it is changed completely (at least for the foreseeable future).


But, despite those things, we can STILL be thankful. I think it is very important to empathize with others and listen to their feelings, but I also think it's very important to admonish and encourage others with truth. Because of this, we can't just sit around and wallow in our sadness. We must choose to take the grace that God extends to us and choose joy. I think that joy is not smiling all the time or being giddy, but a true settled peace deep inside us knowing that no matter what happens, we have God and He is taking care of us.


Because of these things, we have been working on choosing to look at things to be thankful for. For some people, that's pretty easy still. For others, it seems almost impossible. But we must remember God's gifts in order to take our focus off ourselves and turn it back to Him. We have been writing down things with our kids at dinner. This is a great time to sit down together and think about the day and what happened and what we enjoyed the most. Of course, for the kids, it often just turns into listing the different foods they like haha, but that's not a bad thing to be thankful for. So I challenge you- make a list. Maybe daily, weekly, once, whatever works best for you. Write down gifts that God has given you that you can be thankful for. And when you get discouraged (which happens to all of us), look at that list. It will help encourage you to focus on what God is doing and all the good things He has given us. The Bible tells us many times to remember what God has done. If you need somewhere to start, read Ephesians and start writing things down. The first half of the book is especially packed full of all we have in Christ. Praise the Lord today for what He has given us in Him!

  • Christina

I've been working on my session for our camp ladies retreat and today I kept being reminded how important contentment is in our lives. I turn thirty-three tomorrow, and I often think back over the past year and how God has grown me and shaped me. I think a big part of growing in our lives is learning to be content. It's so easy to always think, "if only" or "when I get there" or "when I have that"...then I'll be happy and content. But the reality is that if we are counting on our circumstances to provide contentment, we will always end up miserable in the long run. Life is hard. It just is. We are busy, things rarely go like we think they will, people hurt us, we could easily live in constant disappointment. We might finally get what we think we have to have, only to realize that the paradise we thought it would be doesn't exist. I came across this quote today- "If contentment is learned by resting in what we cannot see (God), discontentment results from seeking rest in physical things." In my short 33 years of life, God has shown me over and over again that if I'm not satisfied in Him, I never will be. It's not an easy thing to learn, and I'm still working on it FOR SURE.


As we learn to give up our wants and desires for His, it's amazing to see how God molds our hearts. He often uses very painful circumstances to show us the flaws in the things we put our trust in. Sometimes we think if we have a nice house, a husband, a child, a new job, etc, THEN we will be happy. But when we do receive those things, they end up proving to be a lot of work and not the paradise we once thought, and ultimately, they prove to be just broken cisterns- things we are trying to fill the hole in our hearts that only God can fill. They may be good things, but if we are trying to put those things in the place of God, we will always be disappointed. There are many things in our lives that are truly good and do bring joy, but if it is becoming an idol or something we "have to have" then that's where we have gone wrong. 


I think the big thing we need to remember is that if we are not content in the present, we are deceived to think that we will be content with a change of circumstances. What we need is a change of heart. Before we start looking for the next new thing to satisfy our longing hearts whether it is a person, place, or thing, we need to desperately pray that God would change our hearts and make us completely satisfied only in Him, exactly where we are right now. We have to ask for His grace, because in our flesh, we can never do it. There are several very big life decisions that I have almost made, but once I thought about the reasons I was making them, I realized they were selfish and born out of discontentment with my present circumstances. lt's always humbling to realize that, but it's so much better to realize ahead of time then to make the wrong decision and regret it later. Once I began to seek to make Christ the center of my life, and not myself, it was amazing to see how He helped me to have complete joy and contentment, even though the circumstances didn't necessarily change. 


God is a gracious God and can redeem even our filthy, selfish hearts. So we don't have to be discouraged when we see the sins of discontentment and pride growing in our hearts. Instead, we should ask God for the grace to fully trust Him and fully be content, exactly where He has placed us. Is everything good in our present circumstances? Of course not! We were never promised that life would be all good. But each thing that is in our lives is something that can draw us closer to God if we let it. When hard things happen or things don't go our way, we need to cling to Christ and seek Him, instead of grow bitter and discontent and seek for the quickest way out. I pray that the older I get, the more God will give me the grace to be content exactly where He has placed me in life.

 


  • Christina

God is good. This is something we hear people say a lot. It can become trite because people just kind of say it flippantly or tag it onto a sentence. Often times it is linked with something like- "I got the job- God is so good!" or "My tests came back negative- God is good!" But are we really thinking about what that means or are we just saying that because we feel warm and fuzzy inside? When things aren't warm and fuzzy, that's suddenly a lot harder to hear and say. Recently I started thinking about this phrase and why we tend to think of it so much in relation to our circumstances. If we get a promotion, yes, God is good, but if we get a terminal illness, God is still good. And that's because, even though we tend to link it to what happens visibly in our lives, His goodness is not dependent on our circumstances. God is good because that's who He is. That is His character. The Bible says so much about God being good:

Psalm 119:68 "You are good, and what you do is good."
Psalm 107:1 "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever."
Psalm 145:9 "The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all He has made."
Matthew 19:16-17 "There is only One who is good."
Psalm 34:8 "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him."
Nahum 1:7 "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in Him.
Psalm 100:5 "For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations."

These are just a few of the verses in the Bible that talk about God being good. We as humans will not understand it all on this earth, but God will always be good because that's who He is. Just like God is holy, just, loving, and so many other things, God is good. It is a part of his character. When we think of good things, we think of things we like that don't hurt us but bring us pleasure. But God literally IS good. This is why we can say, despite anything going on in our lives, that God is always good. Because no matter what circumstance comes into our lives, God never changes. His character stays the same. God is good when we have a great day, because God is always good. God is good on our worst day, because God is always good. See the common thread here. We could put any circumstances in front of it and the second part would always be true. That's hard to hear sometimes because our finite minds are telling us that doesn't make sense. We don't understand how we can say God is good when something that is obviously not good like death, disease, lose of a job, or heartache happens.


So how can we make sense of that when things happen that we do not like? How do we believe God is good during hard circumstances? Part of it is just faith. Because God's Word says He is good, I will trust that is true even though I don't see it right now. We can't have this faith on our own. It comes from God's grace and He gives us supernatural strength to trust Him no matter what. Another part to it is to realize what God is doing for us during that time of sadness or stress. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." God is good in that He comforts us. That is huge! People who don't know God don't have that comfort and hope that comes from Him. To go through hard times and have God comforting us is His kindness and goodness displayed in our lives. Psalm 147:3 says, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." God may not always heal us on earth, but He heals our hearts. God gave us His Word which is His good gift to us to comfort, encourage, and admonish us, through hard times and easy ones. We may not be able to find much good out of an earthly situation. It might really be a bad one and cause much pain and hurt, but we can still find goodness in God, because He will never cease to be good.


I have barely scratched the surface of this topic and there is much more to be learned and said, but overall, remember that the next time everything in your being screams out that God is not good, because you don't see any good happening, remember who He is and run to Him for faith to believe, for comfort, and for help. He is good.

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