Infectious and contagious are words we’ve become very familiar with in the past few months. While we’ve been encouraged to use reasonable care in preventing the spread of an infectious virus that is highly contagious, it seems that the virus is not the only contagion that has spread rapidly. Fear and anxiety have overwhelmed the world as we watch the numbers of cases rise and the elderly succumb.
The rumblings of discontentment can be heard and felt across the world but especially across America where we proudly sing, “let freedom ring.” We are a country that was founded on protecting the freedom of individuals and now we are under new constraints. Discontentment rises as the people become weary of want.
Discontentment is defined as the deep dissatisfaction and overall disappointment and restlessness of spirit. It always makes itself known in words and deeds. Discontentment expresses itself outwardly in annoyance, joylessness, worry, gloom and anger. And like a virus that is spread by human contact and interaction, dissatisfaction is contagious. It infects those around us.
What’s the cure for this disposition of the heart? And how do we stop the spread of this contagious condition? Like every virus stopping it begins with finding the antidote. What we need is a solid dose of acceptance brought about by our faith and trust in God who has written a love story for his people. As believers, we can look the to the past in the Word of God to find the answer for the present and we don’t worry about the future.
In 2 Corinthians 11 & 12 Paul writes of hardship, sacrifice, dangers and suffering endured as a man proclaiming the gospel. In the middle of that he carried the weighty pressure of the responsibility of the church which caused him great anxiety. Most of us have never know this degree of suffering, hardship and anxiety.
And in the midst of this difficulty God spoke to Paul saying, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s response? “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness so that the power of God may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak then I am strong.”
“When I am weak;” when my options and resources are limited, when I am isolated, when my freedom of choice is temporarily inhibited, I will boast all the more gladly of my situation so that the power of God may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, I am content in all theses things because when I am weak then I am strong.
Paul says in Philippians 4:11, Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content.
Paul had plenty of reasons to be discontent in his circumstances and yet he was not. He learned contentment which means he didn’t already know how to be content in every situation. He was schooled by the Lord through what he experienced. Paul learned contentment through what he suffered and endured. He learned it. He was just a man who believed in Jesus as His Lord and Savior. His hardships were a vehicle for growth not an obstacle to it. His response to his difficulties was written for our benefit that we might learn to be content in our circumstances just as he learned from his. He has passed on the secret of contentment to us.
God has proven himself faithful and trustworthy throughout the pages of history. He loves us, as adopted children, with an everlasting love. He beckons us to himself and holds us fast in his arms. In that there is comfort for the weary, discontented soul. Because of this we can accept and surrender to circumstances orchestrated by God, with the assurance that it is for our sanctification and His glory. His work in us through hard things produces Christ-like character and maturity.
We are contagious to those around us. Today we can choose which we will pass on; discontentment or contentment. Both are contagious, infecting others. One is a joy and soul-killing virus and the other peace-giving, life-breathing soul reviver. We decide whether we will fight against our circumstances or be changed into the image of Christ through our circumstances.
And by our choices others are brought low or raised up because we are contagious.