By Robin Antoine
As soon as my eldest daughter started walking, she realized that she had the ability to pick up as many things as she could hold in her hands and carry them while walking. She would get a stuffed animal and a blanket and a sippy cup with milk. I’d watch this with a touch of admiration because I love to celebrate her autonomy, but then the sense of caution set in. The blanket was getting a little close to her feet and the milk started spilling a bit. While watching, I realized that her well-being might be at risk, especially if she got close to the stairs with all those items. After awhile, I stepped in and began to reason with my toddler - but reasoning didn't work. So, I took some of the items from her which then progressed into a conflict between the two of us. I had provided those things for her enjoyment but in that moment I wanted her to value my judgement and ability to care for her - more than those things.
Now, maybe it was common sense or maybe it was the gentle counsel of the Holy Spirit. But following that scenario, I realized that my interaction with my daughter mirrored my relationship with God.
Sometimes in my life, I'm trying to get as much as I can to go from point A to point B in my life. I may feel that if I have a house, a car, a good job, and security in all three - then I have value. In other words, my contentment is found in my ability to gain things and keep things. God celebrates my autonomy too, because He gave me free will. But I am in error if I ever think that the things that I have are more valuable than the One who provided those things. Instead, I find that:
Contentment is always in the Provider,
not in the provision.
In our lives, we experience times of job security and losing a job. Maybe, it is as severe as having a loved one and having them pass away. These can all be painful experiences but mourning and loss will always be a reminder of our greatest possession - which is our Life in Christ.
This isn’t to say that God intentionally removes things to hurt us but sometimes our delight in our provisions makes us blind to the value of the Provider. Matthew 5:4 (NASB), one of the Beatitudes, speaks to this very experience:
“Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.”
The word ‘comforted’ is translated from the Greek word parakleo which means ‘to invite, to console, or to call near.’ It's a really interesting picture, isn't it? Matthew 5:4 means when we mourn a loss, our pain invites God in - it calls out to Him to console us.
Isn’t that the opposite of what we often feel? A feeling of being neglected by God is what often accompanies feelings of grief and loss but the opposite is true: When we grieve, our pain catches God’s attention. John 14:16 (KJV) says, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” In this verse, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as our Comforter which is translated from the Greek parakletos, derived from parakleo (comforted). Being aware of the link between those 2 words, Matthew 5:4 is actually a promise that is fully realized after the Cross. Those who have accepted Christ as their life are made righteous, and the Holy Spirit abides in them. Those who are in Christ are blessed when they mourn because their comfort isn’t in the experience of being comforted - it is in the presence of the Comforter being with them continually. Not only does Matthew 5:4 demonstrate that God is aware of our pain,
He has also intentionally placed Himself in
permanent and close proximity to us to help us.
Therefore my contentment is in and from God. My contentment isn't in the things that I possess or things working out the way that I want.
God also understands grief! He experienced grief on your behalf when He gave His only begotten Son to die to demonstrate His luxurious wealth of favour towards us. Romans 8:31-32 (NASB) says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” All things doesn’t always mean God will give us everything we want. It sometimes means that God can give us above and beyond what our five senses could conceive. God is not limited by our imaginations - He desires to exceed them. Our Heavenly Father is a better father than me and a better parent than you. You can trust Him to care for you. He is not afraid of your pain or doubts, He just wants you to receive His presence with you in the moment, and His heart to do good to you.