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Contentment

Contentment

“Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” —Psalm 131:2

Do you remember the last time you felt fully content? For some, it may be the exhilarating moment right after a tough workout. For others, perhaps it’s savoring the last bit of a delicious meal. I feel most content when I am playing music in my piano room at home with family.

These moments are rich, but they quickly fade and leave us in a state of attempting to return to what we once had or with a longing for the future arrival of new satisfaction. Although we desire to live satisfied and content lives, this reality tends to continually escape us. Like trying to hold water in cupped hands, most of us can manage to hold on to contentment only for a moment before it slips away and we are left craving more.

It is rare to come across truly content people. I look at them with wonder and have a deep desire to experience what they experience: the ability to live in a state of accepting what is right in front of them, both feet firmly rooted in the present moment, and living with hands wide open to accept both the blessings and challenges of life.

Ask yourself: If someone were to view your private life and inner world, would contentment be found?

In Psalm 131, the psalmist describes the experience of true contentment through the imagery of a newly weaned child. In the Jewish culture, children weren’t typically weaned until they were 3 years old. As the children grew older, they became increasingly restless, and their mothers found it challenging to satisfy their appetites.1 The psalmist is stating that rather than being restless before the Lord, they are content. The implication is they are like a small child sitting on his or her mother’s lap, simply content with her nurturing presence.

Consider these two brief thoughts: First, contentment is intricately connected with child-like humility (131:1). Pride does not satisfy and leads the individual to continual seek more to devour. Second, contentment requires rhythms of silence. Contentment cannot be experienced if we live only in the busy and distracted hustle of day-to-day life. According to the psalmist, contentment is experienced through the deliberate choice to calmly and quietly sit before the Lord.

Both of these thoughts together communicate the primary key to contentment. We must be humble enough to turn to the Lord and seek Him, and we must have the desire to be still and quiet in order to better learn child-like trust. Perhaps only then will we be able to hear the still small voice of the Spirit’s whisper reminding us that we have all we need.

Prayer for the week: Father, help us find our contentment not in what You give to us, but in the reality of intimately knowing and experiencing Your presence as Almighty God.

Sarah Fredricks is Associate Pastor at Living Hope Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas, USA.

[1] Bernard P. Robsinson, Form and Meaning in Psalm 131 (Biblica, 79 no 2, 1998), 188.