Content in All Things
CONTENTMENT IS TAKING PLEASURE IN GOD'S DISPOSAL.
Jeremiah Burroughs writes in his book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Conentment:
This is so when I am well pleased in what God does, in so far as I can see God in it, though, as I said, I may be sensible of the affliction, and may desire that God in his due time would remove it, and may use means to remove it. Yet I am well pleased in so far as God's hand is in it. To be well pleased with God's hand is a higher degree than the previous one. It comes from this: not only do I see that I should be content in this affliction, but I see that there is good in it.
I find there is honey in this rock, and so I do not only say, I must, or I will submit to God's hand. No, the hand of God is good, 'It is good that I am afflicted.' To acknowledge that it is just that I am afflicted is possible in one who is not truly contented. I may be convinced that God deals justly in this matter, he is righteous and just and it is right that I should submit to what he has done; O the Lord has done righteously in all ways! But that is not enough! You must say, 'Good is the hand of the Lord.' It was the expression of old Eli: 'Good is the hand of the Lord,' when it was a sore and hard word. It was a word that threatened very grievous things to Eli and his house, and yet Eli says, 'Good is the word of the Lord.' Perhaps, some of you may say, like David, 'It is good that I was afflicted', but you must come to this, 'It is good that I am afflicted.' Not just good when you see the good fruit it has wrought, but to say when you are afflicted, 'It is good that I am afflicted. Whatever the affliction, yet through the mercy of God mine is a good condition.'
It is, indeed, the top and the height of this art of contentment to come to this pitch and to be able to say, 'Well, my condition and afflictions are so and so, and very grievous and sore; yet, through God's mercy, I am in a good condition, and the hand of God is good upon me notwithstanding.' I should have given you several Scriptures about this, but I will give you one or two, which are very striking. You will think it is a hard lesson to come so far as not only to be quiet but to take pleasure in affliction . . .
It is no marvel that Paul was content, for a verse or two after my text you read: 'But I have all and abound. I am full' (Philippians 4:18). I have all? Alas, poor man! what did Paul have that could make him say he had all? Where was there ever a man more afflicted than Paul was? Many times he had not tatters to hang about his body to cover his nakedness. He had no bread to eat, he was often in nakedness, and put in the stocks and whipped and cruelly used, 'Yet I have all', says Paul, for all that. Yes, you will find it in 2 Corinthians: He professes there that he did possess all things: 'As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things' (2 Corinthians 6:10).
Mark what he says-it is, 'as having nothing' but it is 'possessing all things'. He does not say: 'As possessing all things', but 'possessing all things'. I have very little in the world, he says, but yet possessing all things. So you see that a Christian has cause to take pleasure in God's hand, whatever his hand may be . . .
A contented heart looks to God's disposal, and submits to God's disposal, that is, he sees the wisdom of God in everything. In his submission he sees his sovereignty, but what makes him take pleasure is God's wisdom. The Lord knows how to order things better than I. The Lord sees further than I do; I only see things at present but the Lord sees a great while from now. And how do I know but that had it not been for this affliction, I should have been undone. I know that the love of God may as well stand with an afflicted condition as with a prosperous condition. There are reasonings of this kind in a contented spirit, submitting to the disposal of God.
Whatever particular afflictions God may place us in, we must be content in them.
Though we be shut up in great afflictions, and we may think of this and that and the other means to come out of that affliction, yet till God opens the door, we should be willing to stay; God has put us in, and God will bring us out. So we read in the Acts of Paul, when they had shut him in prison and would have sent for him out; 'No', says Paul, 'they shut us in, let them come and fetch us out.' So in a holy, gracious way should a soul say, 'Well, this affliction that I am brought into, is by the hand of God, and I am content to be here till God brings me out himself.' God requires it at our hands, that we should not be willing to come out till he comes and fetches us out.
Contentment is the inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, freely submitting to and taking pleasure in God's disposal in every condition. Contentment is a heart-work within the soul, the quieting of the heart, the frame of the spirit.
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