It was Monday. I blinked. It was Friday.
Where has the week gone? I wondered. Indeed, where has the summer gone? Where have nearly 60 years gone?
Sometimes I get to thinking about the whirlwind we call life. I look at where and what I am now, and reflect on how I came to this point. I’m happy. I’m content.
There’s a difference between happiness and contentment, you know. Happiness comes and goes. Things make us happy (especially new things). Events make us happy. People make us happy. But things get old and in disrepair, and need our continued attention to keep them in usable form. Events come and go, leaving us with nothing more than warm memories (and maybe a new family member). And people—well, we all know people are human, inconsistent, and can disappoint us. We lose people we love—to death, to divorce, to them growing up and moving out, and sometimes to misunderstandings and foolish pride.
Happiness, according to my Children’s Ministry Resource Bible, is “feelings of pleasure or contentment that I have when things are going well” (emphasis mine).
Contentment, on the other hand, is an ongoing thing. It’s deep-seated because it’s deep-rooted. It doesn’t depend on things, events or people to survive. It’s a state of being. My Children’s Ministry Resource Bible defines it as “being quietly satisfied with what I have and what I am; accepting God’s care and provision for me.” The latter part of that definition is the key to the first.
I’ve been blessed, and I can continue to count my blessings, even though our garden is doing horribly this year and we won’t be replacing the redneck porch just yet. Life isn’t perfect. But it’s good.
Moses, who had all kinds of trouble in his 120-year lifetime, asked God to teach him to number his days right, so he would have “a heart of wisdom.”
A heart of wisdom knows what’s important. A heart of wisdom uses each day the best way and squeezes every drop of pleasure from each moment. A heart of wisdom doesn’t complain (too much) about detours, but enjoys the scenery. A heart of wisdom takes the unexpected and turns it into an adventure. A heart of wisdom doesn’t fret over things that can’t be changed.
A heart of wisdom knows happiness is fleeting and contentment is knowing Who is in control—of today, tomorrow and forever.
I like the New Living Translation phrasing of Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”
Indeed, my stay on earth is too short to focus on all that’s wrong with my life, with people I know, with the country, with the world, but not nearly long enough to number my blessings.
Satisfy me, Lord, in the morning with Your unfailing love, so I may sing for joy to the end of my earthly life and on throughout eternity (based on Ps. 90:14). Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Psalm 90