|Cecile Van Antwerp has lived in a wheelchair many more years than I have, plus she resides in a nursing home. Years ago when I went to visit her, I was struck by the small size of her living alcove—just enough room for a bed and chest of drawers in the corner by a window. Yet with photos, a flower arrangement, a colorful afghan, and a plaque on the wall above her headboard, she has made it her home. She has scaled down her heart’s desires and fashioned a small, cozy nest out of a tight, cramped space. And she’s content.
Gaining contentment does not mean instantly having things your way. Gaining contentment means equalizing your desires and your circumstances. Cecile, at one time, may have wanted a large, spacious living area, but since that wasn’t in the realm of possibility, she “subtracted” that desire and, with God’s grace, adjusted her desires to her circumstances. The world doesn’t do it this way. The world will have you trying to improve your circumstances to match your desires, whether it’s health, money, beauty, or power.
But it is wiser to subdue your heart to match your situation. Christians may not be able to rule their life circumstances, but they can rule their hearts: “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position,” says James 1:9-10. Jeremiah Burroughs says,
“Here lies the bottom and root of all contentment: when there is an evenness and proportion between our hearts and our circumstances. [A Christian] is the most contented man in the world and yet the most unsatisfied man in the world; these two together must needs be mysterious…He is contented if he has but a crust…yet if God should give unto him Kingdoms and Empires…he should not be satisfied with that. A soul that is capable with God can be filled with nothing else but God.”
Lord, help me to learn what Cecile learned about you. That you are enough. That your grace is sufficient.