Last week, I enjoyed a much-needed break on a beautiful island in the Caribbean. I sometimes feel guilty that God has blessed our family with the opportunity to enjoy such experiences, when so many will probably never have the ability to do so.
A recent experience drove this home in a powerful way, helping me remember that we should never take such experiences for granted.
There were a lot of people where we stayed, and a limited supply of huts for guests to use to get some shade. The process to reserve a hut was quite difficult and probably poorly designed. We had to wait in line to sign up for a hut, and unless one was willing to get up very early (like 6 a.m.) and stand in line for an hour, there wasn't much chance of getting a prime location near the water.
My first day, I arrived late to the sign-up location, around 7:45, and there was a line of about 10 people. Each person takes 5 - 10 minutes to look at the options, discuss alternatives, and make a decision, so I knew I was in for an hour wait.
In front of me, a woman and her 10-year-old son were having a miserable time with the whole experience. She spoke to her son, but wanted everyone to know that she wasn't happy and that this really stank.
"I won't get to my run until 9, and it will be too hot!" she complained continually. "Why are we doing this? This is the stupidest system I have ever seen."
Finally—painfully—she blamed her son about half a dozen times: "This is your fault. This is your idea, and I'm doing this for you!"
Wow, to put the guilt and condemnation on him...
I am not judging the woman who stood in line with me. Because, unfortunately, I saw myself in her behavior.
Too often, I complain while in the midst of incredible blessing. It must grieve God's heart when we are ungrateful for the blessings He pours out on us every day.
This experience made me think about the many times when I have complained about some inconvenience or minor discomfort while being blessed beyond what I deserve—and beyond what most people have ever experienced. I have been that person standing in line on a tropical island, complaining about the inconvenience of it all.
Contentment is key to happiness and to a spirit of thankfulness. When we are content, we can truly be thankful. As the Apostle Paul said, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation." (Philippians 4:12)
Contentment is one of the foundational pillars of being a good steward. Being content allows us to be generous, and being generous blesses God and others.
There are 3 keys to contentment:
1. Recognize Truth
Recognize that everything comes from God. We have nothing on our own.
2. Be Generous
Generosity makes us hold on to "our" stuff very loosely. If we are generous, it is hard to be selfish. And unselfishness helps promote contentment.
3. Focus on Eternity
Keeping an eternal focus helps us become content. If we truly focus on our eternal experience and recognize that we have a short time here on earth, we can be happy with our circumstances, because they are short term.
May God grant you the grace to be content in any circumstance!