“Attaining Contentment: The Gift That Keeps on Giving”, Part 5e
For the past eight Training Table gatherings, we have been ingesting the subject of CONTENTMENT—based upon “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment”, by Jeremiah Burroughs. If you would care to, please review the previous segments in the Training Table Archives.
Today’s spread will be the last course (directly anyway) on the subject of contentment. Not, by the most remote possibility, that we have covered the subject in full measure.
On the contrary, the rare jewel of Christian contentment is a now-available and eternally-long blessing that the faithful will enjoy as we abide in Christ in the present-day battles AND as we will stand face-to-face with God in the consummation.
What Does Redemptive Suffering Have to Do with Christian Contentment?
Answering this core question can be accomplished from various perspectives, but allow me to offer a comparison that comes to mind by asking another question: What does an acorn have to do with the magnificient Oak tree?
Here’s the net-net… in a nutshell… that I would like to offer as one of the most important aspects of the Christian life. As adapted from my book:
From the 30,000′ Level…
1) In the beginning, God made things very good (Genesis 1, 2).
2) By offering the first of Humankind His love, and requiring Humankind’s love in return, God had to allow for unlove, or rebellion—otherwise love would be not love, but rather mere puppetry (1 John 5:1; John 14:21, 23).
3) When the first of Humankind (Adam and Eve) chose poorly by elevating self-love above God-love (Genesis 3), sin entered the universe through them, spoiled all things, and guaranteed suffering be an unavoidable aspect of all and any life until Jesus returns to make all things new (Jeremiah 17:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 21:1-27).
4) However (and a huge one at that), in God’s amazing and manifold mercies, He chose (for no reason incumbent upon Himself or due Humankind except for God’s Trinity love spread abroad) to USE the suffering mankind caused to, a) redeem the sin of the whole world (in Jesus’ suffering and blood atonement and for those whom have faith in Him, John 3:16) AND, b) to USE the suffering of people of faith in Jesus as the means of becoming more and more like Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:18; Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 1:4; Hebrews 2: 14; 7:27; James 1:1; 1 Peter 2:21, 24).
5) Today (since Jesus’ resurrection), God’s two most important priorities (both of which bring glory to Himself) are to, a) transform UNbelievers into faithful believers; and b) Believers into the likeness of Jesus Christ (which will in turn help bring to pass the first, as well as the redemption of a broken, orphaned, needy, and destitute world). It’s all about redemption, to the glory of God, the blessing of His people, and giving thanks for it all (2 Corinthians 1:11; I Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20)!
6) In the scope of how God uses suffering to make His people (born-again Christians) more and more like His son, following is a “protocol for redemptive suffering” that was born from a miraculous encounter with God:
To the Heart Transformation Level…
1) The Weeping: All Weeping, all tears, all trials, and every freefall allowed (not created by Him, but “all fallenness orchestrated by God” in life, Job 1:6-12) are God’s offer for revealing and firming up the foundations of our faith—as revealed in creation, in Christ, and in covenant.
2) The Window: Once on the foundation of Creation, Christ, and Covenant, we are assured no punishment is involved (“it is finished” on the cross, John 19:30), only purification: Looking through the window blown open by the pain, and searching our heart, discerning between the falsehoods and truths of our faith, and taking actions to love and live True Truth while hating and vanquishing all falsehood—all done in a community of faith, as it cannot be done alone.
3) The Way: For the “co-redeemer in Christ”, the way back into the chaos of a fallen and wholly broken world—as an instrument of redemption—requires supernatural and human will power, purpose, and preparation. Please, don’t waste your tears!
And the cycle repeats itself: The weeping, the window, and the way. The cycle, lovingly and intimately orchestraded by God’s providential care of His Beloved, is the engine for making us more and more like Jesus Christ. This truth is at the centerpiece of contentment—even, and especially, amidst the worst possible conflict or calamity.
Transforming every trial into a triumph, until Jesus returns, when we will get to see in eternity how God has glorified Himself, and blessed His people, by way of His life living through us in time: The suffering servant sent to redeem… in time, and enjoyed for all eternity!
What Does Redemptive Suffering Have to Do with Christian Contentment? Just Everything!
One “acorn of suffering”—properly planted in the soil of God’s loving care and our faithful stewardship of our trials in Christ—yields a mind-blowing vista of the most beautiful Oaks of Righteousness we could ever hope for—until all things are made new and we can finally, at long last, see the forest through the trees!
If the Christian would have the sort of stewardship of their trials akin to the care and “protocol” outlined above (as detailed and personalized in my book), then suffering and contentment will become the warp and woof of the most marvelous tapestry of God’s redemptive story—and the countless hearts of stone made flesh—to fulfill “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”!
May we seek contentment with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength: It’s a feast for today—dimly reflected yet superseded by the heavenly banquet of tomorrow—when running the good race has happily ended, and The Training Table will be but a trace in the stream of tears wiped away !