2010 to 2011: Striving for Contentment and Discontentment Simultaneously

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 30, Philippians 3

STRIVING FOR CONTENTMENT

In 2010, I dealt with a new threat to my contentment – financial insecurity. Prior to founding The Park Forum, the source of my income seemed certain – whether it was the Federal government, the NYSE or Simpson Thacher. Now, however, I am dependent on voluntary donors. Thus, in January 2010, I prayed for as much funding as possible so that I would not have to worry. As the year progressed, however, I found that God was faithful in providing as He determined – even though we never had an overabundance [1]. Today, although I pray for funding, I do not pray for a large reserve of resources. Instead, I ask the Lord to give us what He apportions as daily bread so that we are constantly dependent on Him: “[G]ive me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” [2].

STRIVING FOR DISCONTENTMENT

In 2011, although I want to continue striving for grateful and peaceful contentment in all of the many wonderful gifts that He has given me, there is one thing in which I never want to be content – namely, the current state of my spiritual life. Like Paul, I want “to be content whatever the circumstances” [3], but I want more intensity in worship, depth in truth, purity and holiness in life, and determination in pursuing His kingdom: “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him” [4].

PRAYER

Lord, In 2011, let us strive for contentment with all that You have apportioned to us, but let us strive for discontentment in our relationship with You. There is always more of You to know and experience because You are infinite and Your wonders and glory are eternally inexhaustible. Although we confess that we know so little of You because of our sin, we ask one thing from You: “that we may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of our lives, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple” [5]. Amen.

_______________________________________ 


[1] Due to our 400-word limitation, I do not have the space to tell you about the generous donor in January (who told me how much he loved the mission and wanted to support it any way that he could) or the surprise donor in June (who unexpectedly gave online enough to keep us alive for several months) or our monthly donors (who give us stability and faithful commitment) or the many other generous donors (who give with cheerful hearts) or the people who attended our launch event (who came to support us even if they could not give) or the kind friends and family (who treat me to dinner or take me shopping) or the non-financial “donors” (whose gifts of encouragement have no monetary value but whose emails or notes I keep in a special file and read on the tough days). Even as I write this list, I think of how many of you, as readers, contribute financially, spiritually and emotionally. When we started The Park Forum, we chose to do the first Subway Series on Philippians because, to me, it is the sweetest and tenderest of Paul’s letters. I am convinced that his heart is evident in that letter because he considered the Philippians to be his “partners in the gospel,” since they were the only ones who financially contributed to him, suffered alongside him, and sent people to him to help bear his burden. As I look back on 2010, I echo Paul’s words when I think of each of you: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3-6 NIV). I love you and I thank you for being a part of God’s answer to my prayers. |  [2] Proverbs 30:8-9 NIV  |  [3] Philippians 4:11 NIV  |  [4] Philippians 3:8-9 NIV  |  [5] Psalm 27:4-5 NIV (Ed. Note: I changed “I” to “we” for grammatical accommodation) |   If you would like to contribute to the work of The Park Forum at year-end, see here (and thank you!).

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