Learning to be Content
These last few months have been exciting, nerve racking, and overwhelming. We sold our precious little house in June. We then moved into a friend's basement. Next, we moved to Edinburgh. Upon moving here, we have lived in a two-bedroom flat with a family of four (yes you counted right, seven people sharing a two bedroom flat). In the midst of this, there have been emotional highs and lows.
I am going to be honest, at some of my low points, even two weeks into all of this, I have started to question whether we made the right decision. I think about my responsibility to lead my family and wonder if I had made a really poor decision and if I am leading them astray. I mean really, we have been essentially nomadic homeless people for two months (not exactly what Taryn signed up for). It has been easy to become discontent. To look at what we had in Franklin/Spring Hill or look at the places other people are living in here and just want to move back home.
Those thoughts have driven me even more to repentance. You see, every time that I think this way, I realize that I am breaking the tenth commandment. Really, in a sense, every time I think this way, I am breaking the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and TENTH commandment. It is shocking how all of these commandments are so interconnected. We really can't break one without breaking them all. The tenth commandment reads:
You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.
— Exodus 20:17
The Westminster Larger Catechism explains this positively saying:
The duties required in the tenth commandment are, such a full contentment with our own condition, and such a charitable frame of the whole soul toward our neighbor, as that all our inward motions and affections touching him, tend unto, and further all that good which is his. (A. 147)
What strikes me is that one of the things this command does is teach us to be content in our circumstances. That reminds me of what Thomas Watson says about the third commandment. That is, that it instructs us not to murmur at his (God's) providences. The third commandment is about contentment as well. We could go through all of the commandments and see how they all point us to discovering contentment in our circumstances. It seems one of the things that we need constant reminding of is contentment. The natural man is not easily content with his situation, and thus, the Lord must remind us to be content.
Learning to be content is hard. Through these months of transition and unsettledness, the Lord is teaching it to me. In the end, what I am finding to be true was spoken to me by a friend, "This time of uncertainty is a gift of the Lord to wean you off of love for things of the world and to find your joy in Christ alone."Or perhaps as Watson put it:
Afflictions are the medicine which God uses to carry off our spiritual diseases; they cure the swelling of pride, the fever of lust, the cancer of covetousness. Do they not then work for good?
So, I am realizing that I need the Spirit to work on me, to grow me in my contentedness, to find my hope and my joy solely in Christ. These moments have been good if not difficult.
Now today I can rejoice. The Lord does sustain his children and bring them through these times of trial. We can rejoice together because come Monday of next week the Clausing family will be in our own flat. The Lord has provided in ways that we could never have imagined (I am sure when we move in, Taryn will tell you the stories of the Lord's provision). Needless to say, we have been blessed beyond belief. Thus, what I have learned is not only contentment but belief. Belief that God will fulfill the prayer we pray every night with Calvin and every week in worship namely that God will "give us this day our daily bread." The Lord always provides what his people need.
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