I walked into the kitchen and found a sink full of dishes. It wasn’t how I planned to start my day. It’s weird the satisfaction I got out of denying myself coffee while I sudsed up the sponge and worked on Mount Dishmore. The little irritations I savored as I scrubbed pots and swished out ice cream bowls. I had a pile of work that I got up early to get started on and this was not on the agenda.
Over the years I’ve had women, young and old, say to me, “My life isn’t what I expected it to be.” They find themselves looking around and seeing pieces and persons and priorities that were not what they expected to find at this point in their lives. A career that didn’t satisfy. A life of loneliness as romances blossomed and faded. A souring in what was supposed to be sweetness of motherhood.
This morning I needed to remind myself of what I’ve said to those dear sisters. It’s a distillation of the wisdom of Jeremiah Burroughs found in his gem of practical devotional literature, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.
I can only be sufficiently satisfied in my own heart when I stop looking outside my heart for contentment—and that is only through the grace of Christ. Burroughs says,
“Though I have not outward comforts and worldly conveniences to supply my necessities, yet I have a sufficient portion between Christ and my soul abundantly to satisfy me in every condition. . . . Here lies the bottom and root of all contentment, when there is an evenness and proportion between our hearts and our circumstances.”
If my heart responds to the outward circumstances of my life, of course, I am unhappy and begin to count up the expectations that must be met in order for me to be content. But where then is my love to God? Only as much as he supplies what I think I need? Am I deficient if God is all I have to fill the hole in my life?
Love to God ought to slay the dragon of disappointment, which feeds on a steady diet of expectations and ingratitude that I have not gotten my heart’s desire. “I am discontented because I have not these things which God never yet promised me, and therefore I sin much against the Gospel, and against the grace of faith,” Burroughs says, and then asks, “When God has given you your heart’s desire, what have you done with your heart’s desire?”
Lord, mortify the desire for more than you, cause me to expect satisfaction only in you, and to be pleased in what you do. Point me back to the “grace [that] enables men to see love in the very frown of God’s face, and so come to receive contentment.” (Burroughs)