Sunday, October 24, 2010

This too shall pass

NOTE: This is the sixth of a seven-part series on AGING WITH GRACE.

Be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

Thirty years ago we moved from an apartment to an unfinished basement 13 miles from town. The money we paid for rent, we reasoned, would be better spent on the house we were building. Our oldest child was four and our baby daughter was 11 months old. Boxes, clothes and toys cluttered every square foot of that concrete cubicle. The furnace needed repair. It was mid-November, and winter was closing in fast. A constant fire in the woodstove did little to warm up the concrete surrounding us. Insulating the place was still on our to-do list. I wore long underwear, a toboggan hat and layers of clothing indoors.
The plumbing was still unfinished, so we hooked up a garden hose to the water tank and fed it through a hole in the wall above the bathtub. Lugging pots of hot water from the kitchen, I flooded the bathroom floor twice. My back ached from sleeping on an old, lumpy sofa bed mattress. Our comfortable queen-size bed was stored in the wagon shed until we made room for it.
“Why can’t I have nice things the easy way like everyone else?” I grumbled after three days of disorganization, interruptions and things gone wrong. “Why am I always a ‘have-not’ and never a ‘have’?”
My husband tried to cheer me up. “It’s only temporary,” he said.
Then, before the first week was up, an early snowstorm dumped six inches on the countryside overnight. Every two hours I bundled up even more and shoveled swirling drifts away from the only door. Flinging wet, heavy snow over my shoulder, I gave in to self-pity.
“Temporary, temporary,” I fumed. “Is everything temporary?”
The answer came immediately: Even if you had everything exactly the way you wanted, it would still be temporary.
This is the fifth secret to aging with grace: Being content in your circumstances because you know that whatever your earthly condition, it’s only temporary. Contentment is the antidote to unhappiness, envy, worry, fear, discontentment, grumbling and bitterness.
That’s not to say I don’t feel envy and discontent at times. But I fight it by focusing, not on the things I can see, but on the things I can’t, because “what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). Why get all stirred up about something that isn’t going to last? I’ve learned that with God’s help, I can make it through anything by fixing my eyes on what is permanent:  God, His Word, His promises, His presence, His protection, His provision, His love, His gifts of eternal life and a home in Heaven with Him forever. 
            With God, I have everything.
            Lord, help me to remember that whatever my earthly condition – whether rich, poor, or in between – is only temporary. Remind me daily what’s really important. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18           

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