Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. —Hebrews 13:5
Last week we got a good look at the love and beauty of our Lord Jesus Christ through the life of Leah, but I wanted to spend one more week here with Leah because I also saw in her life an excellent opportunity to talk about contentment. Oh, what a hot topic that is! And especially as we get ready to enter the Christmas shopping season, when so many people are thinking about what they want for Christmas, although they would be hard pressed to remember what they received last year.
Leah loved much, and her heart always cried out to receive love to the degree that she gave it. She yearned for the affection of her husband, but she would never be his first love, and that was that. Jacob loved her, and that was the best he could do. He loved Rachel more. Even after she gave him several children, Jacob’s heart was still firmly knit with Rachel, and it always would be. Was Leah destined to be unfulfilled all her days? Or was there hope for her to find contentment?
Genesis 30:17-21 And God hearkened unto Leah, and she conceived, and bore Jacob the fifth son. And Leah said, “God has given me my reward, because I have given my maiden to my husband:” and she called his name Issachar. And Leah conceived again, and bore Jacob the sixth son. And Leah said, “God has endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons:” and she called his name Zebulun. And afterwards she bore a daughter, and called her name Dinah.
Leah had six sons and a daughter, and all she wanted was to be loved by her husband. Her sister Rachel was loved by her husband, and all she wanted was to have a son. Each of them had what the other wanted, so how is it that either of the women could have thought getting what her sister had would make her feel happy and fulfilled when it obviously didn’t work that way for her sister? Nothing more is said about Leah except that she was buried in the family burial place.
So, did Leah ever find contentment? I don’t know. But whether or not Leah ever learned her lesson, my main concern now is making sure that I learn contentment, and that should be your main concern as well. So how do we learn to be content? Where do we find contentment? The truth is, there is only one way to be content, and that is to find your fulfillment in God alone, to learn that He is all you will ever need.
We women have a hard time with this. We think we need things or people to be fulfilled. Singles need a husband. Barren women need to have children. Poor women need more money. Renters need to buy a home. Home owners need a new and bigger home. And how many of us need new clothes, shoes, a new car, or the latest iPhone? You get the point, that satisfaction and contentment always seem to be just outside of reach because there is always something else beyond the next hurdle. Not only that, but when we place our expectations on people, those people can fail us. After all, they are only human. They are sinners, just like you and me, and they have their own needs too. Not only that, but people die. What happens then? And when we place our expectations on things, they can fail us too, for things can be taken away.
Only in the Lord Jesus Christ can we find true and lasting contentment. Believe me, I know that experientially. First, I thought I would be perfectly content in the right vocation, but the Lord closed the door to what I thought was His will for me. Then I entered marriage thinking my husband and I were going to make each other happy, and boy was I wrong! On both counts. We have both failed each other miserably many times in the past 23 years. But at the same time, God has kept us together for 23 years and counting, and has taught us a good many things about His character along the way. But one of the best things I have learned so far is to lean on the Lord, not on my husband, for support emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. This is in no way to put my husband down, for it was never his responsibility in the first place to be my strength. He and I are friends, yes. We encourage one another, true. But my strength comes from the Lord. I love Psalm 18:2, for David is not content just to say “The Lord is my strength,” but read it for yourself and see how many adjectives he ascribes to the Savior.
Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
Eight different ways David describes the Lord as his place of safety, in whom he trusts. That’s pretty emphatic, isn’t it? David was making it clear that nothing was going to shake his confidence in the Lord. And when my strength comes from the Lord, then I find that I don’t need other things or people as much—I’m not as clingy. Clingy is bad. Clingy suffocates. It stifles. And when God wants to take it away, it hurts. Have you ever had to pry something out of the clenched fist of a small child? It isn’t easy, is it? When we do that with things or with people, we limit God’s ability to bless us. What? You don’t believe me? Read this:
Psalm 78:40-41 How often did they provoke Him in the wilderness, and grieve Him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
Because the children of Israel were not content to follow God and do His will, He was limited in the blessings that He was able to give them. Suppose when you get to heaven you ask the Lord, “Why did You not do such-and-so for me?” and you hear Him say, “I wanted to, but you limited me by your discontent.” Ouch! That would hurt, wouldn’t it?
Contentment is not commanded often in the Bible, but once is enough, isn’t it? The Old Testament has a few examples of men who were content, and the New Testament does give us two clear commands. When the soldiers asked Jesus what they ought to be doing, He told them among other things to be content with their wages; and the writer of Hebrews also told us to be content with what we have because God has promised never to leave or forsake us.
Luke 3:14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of Him, saying, “And what shall we do?” And He said unto them, “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.”
Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Not only that do we have these two commands, but we also have the apostle Paul setting an example by affirming that he has learned contentment, and he also tells young Timothy that if he will add contentment to godliness, he will benefit greatly.
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
If you will learn to trust the Lord at all times, holding whatever He gives with an open hand, then you will find this life of contentment to be extremely rich and satisfying. Jesus Christ truly is all you need—for eternity, and for today too.
Next week: Dinah
Photo taken in Outer Banks, North Carolina, 2017