Contented I Will Be...

Marketing managers and social media "influencers" are forever bombarding consumers with catchy slogans designed to encourage the purchase of a particular product or service. The slogans that most often capture my attention are those that promise to help us consumers enhance the quality of our lives. Among the countless examples of these advertising nuggets are:
"The good life is calling!" -State of Nebraska tourism department

"Open your door to the smart good life!" -LG

"Live your best life!" -Dunkin' Donuts

"Life is a story - make yours a best-seller!" -City University of New York

"Slip into the easy life!" -Skechers sneakers

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

This notion of the "good" life is certainly appealing, but let's face it: life can sometimes be much different than advertised! One can travel to Nebraska, frequent Dunkin' Donuts, slip into a pair of Skechers, buy only LG electronics, or attend CUNY, and still the "good" life can be elusive. The truth is this: Life can be tough, and there are times when even a donut can't fix what's broken!

Those who know me well are aware that health problems have always been a large part of my life's story. In June of this year, those problems intensified, once again, and are currently preventing me from being an active participant in life. Disheartening? Sure. Still, even in this difficult season, I am enjoying an existence that transcends the "good" life the world offers; it is the "abundant" life that Jesus Christ promises in John 10:10: "I (Jesus Christ) have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly," and I am able to experience that life when I trust God enough to identify His blessings in whatever circumstances I find myself.

The secret to living in abundance is in believing that all things - even life's most profound struggles - are blessings from a generous and loving God. But how can that be? How can something difficult or even tragic equate to a blessing? I reflect upon my current circumstances and recognize that illness has allowed me to be the beneficiary of many blessings. Illness has:

1) enriched my connection with God by giving me more time to cultivate holy habits like the study of His Word, prayer and worship;

2) taught me the importance of relying on God rather than myself to endure the difficulties I'm sure to encounter in this world, recognizing that His strength is far greater than my own;

3) heightened my compassion and empathy for others, as I can better comprehend the pain, loneliness and despair that can accompany hardships;

4) helped me to appreciate the value and brevity of time, causing me to become more intentional in determining how and with whom I will spend it. Illness has given me permission to set aside, without apology, the more trivial pursuits on which I am tempted to devote my energy;

5) revealed to me what real friendship looks like. In my life dwell a handful of steadfast friends who have walked alongside me as I've contended with health challenges, inspiring and encouraging me on the worst of days and reveling with me in the best. Also in my life are friends who have grown tired of the last-minute cancellations and reschedulings, of the missed events and appointments that are a consequence of my health. Over time, these individuals have chosen to slowly disconnect from me, a decision I understand more fully than they might realize. Truth be told, no one is more tired of my afflictions than I, and there are days where I'd like to disconnect from me, too! -smile-

But disconnect, I cannot. For my countless prayers for healing and restoration have not been answered as I’d hoped... but have instead been answered just as God ordains. And it is within that reality where I can find the life of abundance promised in God's Word... a life of contentment that I can savor, right where I am.

A woman named Fanny Crosby understood all too well the concept of living abundantly, of finding contentment in the midst of hardship. A prolific writer, Crosby composed over 9,000 hymns during her lifetime – soaring works that praised God and the world He created. And yet, the positivity reflected in her compositions strikes me as nothing short of remarkable when I consider that Crosby lived most of her years never seeing the world she so eloquently praised, given a disease that robbed her of sight at a young age. About her blindness, Fanny Crosby wrote this poem: 

Oh, what a happy soul I am, although I cannot see. 

I am resolved that in this world, contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t.

To weep and sigh because I’m blind – I cannot, and I won’t!

Fanny Crosby resolved to be content despite her circumstances and, even more amazingly, had the ability to discern those blessings she could enjoy only because of them! Had it not been for her affliction, she once said, she might not have “so good an education or have so great an influence, and certainly not so fine a memory.” She also wrote, "It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me."

What an incredible woman Fanny Crosby was! She lived abundantly and contentedly by making a conscious decision to practice thankfulness in all things; to embrace and even rejoice in her hardships. So moved am I by her story that I strive to follow her lead, celebrating the blessings that surround me and delighting in my hardships – all the while trusting that God will use me, just as I am, to accomplish whatever work He has purposed for my life.

As I write, the month of November is drawing ever closer, a month filled with reminders to count our blessings and be thankful. And I am determined to do just that! I will continue to fix my eyes upon the blessings God brings into my life, remembering that blessings can be found most anywhere, despite (and often because of) our circumstances. Fanny Crosby knew this to be true, and so she wrote with confidence, “…contented I will be.” May it be so for us all.