I struggle with contentment on a daily basis. Through my illnesses it’s easy to be discontent and wonder why God would put me in this situation and allow others to have seemingly “easy” lives. I become jealous of others who are healthy, active, have jobs and children while I sit here just waiting for the next doctor’s appointment. However, as I look at Eve, I see that even she became discontent in her situation, even though she was in absolute perfection.
She wasn’t satisfied with what God had given her. There was only one tree she couldn’t eat from – she and her husband were free to eat and do whatever else they wanted, but in her selfishness she was not content and had to have the one thing God had forbidden her to have. As I write this I’m given a huge reality check – Eve was in the Garden of Eden. She was in perfection. She actually walked with God. And yet… She was still discontent.
And then the realization hits – contentment does not come from our situations, from the possessions that we have, from the people in our lives, or even the amount of time spent with God. Contentment is a conscious decision. Eve didn’t choose to be content in her situation. Instead, she chose the contrary – she chose not to be satisfied with every other tree the Lord had given her to eat from, and had to have the one thing He put out of her reach.
So as we look at others’ lives, let us not make the mistake of thinking, “Oh, if I just had this…” or “Oh, if I could only do this…” or “If I only had a wife/husband…” Instead, let us make a conscious decision to be content with whatever God has given us. Yes, God has allowed me to struggle with illness. I don’t know why He gave this to me, I don’t know why He chose me to go through this instead of someone else, but the fact of the matter is that this is what He has given me. This is my life. And no matter how hard it is, it is beautiful simply because God has given me life. And not just life – God has given me an abundant life. I have a family who loves me, friends who care about me, all my physical needs taken care of, and I have a husband who, in his own words, would give his life for me if it meant I could be healthy. I am immensely blessed despite the difficult circumstances I am facing.
Everyone has some kind of cross to bear. This is not to downplay anything that anyone must go through, but hopefully this puts in perspective the thoughts of envy and jealousy we may have towards another person’s seemingly “perfect” or “easy” life. We were not made to compare ourselves to others, but to live the life God has given us each specifically. He has a greater purpose for everything that He does, regardless of what that is. We may face intense trials – death, rape, addiction, miscarriages, illnesses, injuries, etc. – and we may not ever receive the answers of why God allows us to go through those things. But we have hope in knowing that God has a greater purpose for everything He does which is for our good and His ultimate glory. Our “good” may not mean that we have temporary happiness, but maybe it brings us deeper joy in knowing Him. Maybe it slowly chisels us down to be closer to His likeness. Again, we may never know, but we have hope from Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”