To be content in life has little to do with external circumstances, but rather our internal belief system. When we’re in a wilderness season, it’s easy to focus on what isn’t right, the pain we’re in or how great our life used to be. We feel justified for being unhappy because we’re suffering, as though we’re entitled. All this leads to even more discontent and misery!
Surely it’s normal to be unhappy when illness strikes? Isn’t misery expected when an illness has continued for such a long time?!
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Phil 4:11
This is awesome news. The apostle Paul tells us that happiness, or contentment, is something we can learn. This means it is unlikely to just land in your lap. We have to make some kind of effort. So if you don’t feel it right now, you can decide. Everything starts with a choice.
Think of something you’ve had to learn; a musical instrument, cookery, driving…all sorts of things. What makes you think happiness is any different?
So how do we learn happiness?
In his message here, Ps Glyn gives us three keys or principles to a life of contentedness.
- Stop comparing ourselves to others. It may be a fact that others are healthy, but focusing on it, causes misery.
- Learning what makes us happy and incorporating more of those things into each day. I’m talking about the little things; the smell of coconut, the taste of pesto, the sound of rain on a conservatory roof…(these are just some of my favourite ‘happy’ things).
- Gratitude. Learning to be grateful each day will focus our mind on good things as well.
When we retrain our brains to focus on the good, we dis-empower the pathways in our brains that cause us to feel so discontent!
- Do you compare yourself to others who are healthy? What measures can you put in place to stop yourself from doing this?
- Make a list of those things that make you happy. Can you incorporate more of them into your day?
- Consider starting a gratitude diary and write in it each day.
How else can we learn to be happy whilst we’re in a season of illness?
4. Taking our eyes off ourselves!
This the primary way to overcome discontentment. The more we dwell on our hardships, the unfairness and place our eyes upon Jesus, the more content we’ll feel on the inside. Paul endured extreme hardship but he had learned to fix his eyes upon the one whom he lived for. He was focused on building the Kingdom and wanted God to be glorified as a result of all his sufferings.
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Is 26:3
When we’re in a place of peace, we no longer experience the turmoil, the resistance to what is happening in our health.
5. See illness from God’s perspective
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” 2 Cor 4:17
Paul describes his problems as ‘light and momentary’. This is quite fantastic as to you and I, he endured more problems than most will ever experience. Shipwreck, tortures, hunger, imprisonment… Paul had learned to view his problems from God’s perspective. He’d climbed such mountains and learned to see the view from above! His problems were short and temporal, in light of eternity.
Isn’t it awesome, that no matter the magnitude of illness, God is always greater!?
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,” 1 Peter 1:8
This scripture tells us, we can be filled with “inexpressible and glorious joy,” here on earth, not due to our circumstances, but due to knowing Jesus.
The key is to not feel condemned for not feeling this way right now. Our eyes aren’t on how much we love him, always how much he loves us. The more we focus on this, the more we’re filled with such gladness.
Start making a list of all the small things that you love and see how you can incorporate more of them into your day. This forms new pathways in the brain that increases our capacity to receive healing. How awesome is that?!