Published 1:53 pm Wednesday, December 1, 2021
As I walked the halls of a local nursing facility in hopes of providing a little encouragement and cheer to some of the residences there, I got an unexpected reality check myself. As I stepped into the room of an elderly gentleman that I had visited often, I found him doing what I had seen him doing for months—lying in his bed watching television. Unable to walk and seldom getting up to sit in a chair, his world was quite small. His feet had been a source of great difficulty for him; I noticed cloth between his toes and upon inquiry he told me that that was to keep his toes from rubbing together and getting sore.
If that sounds like an existence with little to look forward to, I would have to agree with that assessment. I’m afraid that if I had half the hardships that that old gentleman was experiencing during that season of his life I would probably hold a continuous stream of pity parties. Interestingly, he could give a big grin at any given time. There is much to be learned from one with that kind of outlook on life.
While the conversation unfolded, I offered a few lighthearted words to hopefully give him a little cheer and he kindly responded back to me, but I was not expecting what he said next. It was a simple statement, yet in light of his circumstances I found it to be profound, for even in his restricted condition he found life to be worth living. That simple statement spoken with his impeded speech and imperfect grammar was: “We still here!” In the midst of all the pain and hardships that he had endured, he was still glad to be alive.
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That does not mean that he would have turned down an opportunity to have good health again if it was offered to him. I am confident that he would have been overjoyed if he could walk again; nevertheless, somehow he grasped the value of being thankfully content regardless of the tough blows that life had dealt him.
A long time ago, one of the great men of God, Paul–who wrote a good portion of the New Testament–had this to say about contentment in his life: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12, New International Version). When you examine the life of Paul in the Bible you find a life that had many experiences—both good and bad–as he served the Lord. In the midst of them all he found contentment. The source of that contentment was not in his strong personality, his tough hide, or his powerful determination. While those personal character traits served a purpose in his life, the next verse pinpoints the real reason for his contentment: “I can do everything through Him [Christ] Who gives me strength” (verse 13).
We do not always have a great deal of say-so regarding our circumstances in life, but we have the opportunity to choose how we face them all. When we lean on Christ, He gives us strength to face whatever comes our way. As we are told in 1 Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
It is Thanksgiving Day 2021 as I sit before the computer screen preparing to send this column for publication, and even though the official day of thanks will have passed by the time these words are read, I am once again reminded that we need to be thankful everyday and not place all of our attention on the adversities of life. It is in order to desire for our troubles to diminish, but in the midst of it all, let us with God’s help learn to become thankfully content no matter what life brings our way. Such an outlook will make our troubles a little easier to bear.