I have struggled throughout most of my 33 years with what I will label circumstantial happiness. Sure, I have been happy a lot of the time. But things have gone well a lot of the time, too. And when circumstances came along that weren’t so great, I became anxious, discontent, grumpy, etc. For the most part, I think this is our sinful human nature (or maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better). When I became a Christian, however, I didn’t suddenly become someone who could look past dire circumstances and have a rosy outlook because I was resting in Christ. I wanted to be that way. I sang the hymn He Leadeth Me and desperately wanted to be “content, whatever lot I see,” as the lyrics say. Alas, I’ve always been more of a “murmur and repine” gal.
So recently, I find myself a bit amazed. I have noticed a basic level of happiness and contentment that is present in my life, even when circumstances aren’t particularly going my way. It feels much better when I do not allow circumstances to give me mood whiplash. And I hope that this is a positive trend that remains. I realize that there will be discouraging times in the future and that God doesn’t promise us a life without painful circumstances. However, God does promise to lead us through the difficult times (Deuteronomy 31:8, Isaiah 43:2, John 14:15-17). And I believe it’s possible to have an inner contentment during these times – a peace that resides in me regardless of circumstances.
I see God’s fingerprints all over this gradual change in my attitude. I’ve done some really hard work over the past two years to deal with my “stuff” – with the help of a Christian counselor who is truly one of God’s greatest miracles in my life. We have done a lot of work together to improve my self worth, to heal some pretty deep wounds, and to deal with my fears and anxieties. This healing has opened up room for a deeper relationship with my heavenly Father…one where I can be centered on God and can truly appreciate how Joseph H. Gilmore wrote such beautiful words:
Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.