Tag Archives: faith in God

Help Me Lord!

Prayer is powerful.   I believe that not only should we pour our hearts out to God with our cares and concerns  but we can also use the bible to frame our prayer life for every situation we are going through.  Below is an example  of taking scripture and turning it into a personal prayer.

 Help Me Lord!  A Prayer taken from 2 Samuel 22

O Lord my God, by the blast of your breath, split the darkness that has covered me; rescue me from above; draw me out of the deep waters – out of the darkness. Save me from the stranglehold of the enemy and all his power and circumstances that are too strong for me to fight alone.  For the enemy came upon me with a fury in the day of my calamity, but, O Lord, be my salvation, be my light, be my hope, be my future.  Make my darkness bright and may others see Christ in me.  Help me to get out of Your way and to quit trying to control outcomes. Help me to allow your holy spirit to work in my life and to change and mold me.  Use me for Your glory and rescue me and set me free by the power of Your glorious might.  For You are my salvation. 

 May I become Your delight and walk with righteousness before Your throne.  Break the strongholds that bind me and my family and set us free from the hurts of the past.  May we do good before Your face and be a great blessing to You. Thank you that You bore my shame and my despair and please carry it all for me.  For I am weak and tired and have no strength left to hide it or “put on a good face” 

May I once again, become Your delight. Give me skill to know how to fight this battle, help me to destroy the army that has come against me.  Give me the strength of the young and the strong; be my fortress and keep my family and me safe.

I Praise and exalt the rock of my salvation, I will sing praises to your name. For you are a glorious and powerful God.

I ask all of this in the holy and mighty name of Jesus Christ the holy son of God.  In Jesus name Amen.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

Don’t Give Up

Never give up; fight the good fight
For God is by your side
It may seem like the darkest night
But dawn will surely rise
Even when God seems afar
Know He’s really near
And stand up tall and pass the test
And trust without a fear.

Seek God for His perfect plan
Let Him lead your way
For though it’s dark; He’s there with you
To comfort and to say
Fear not my child, I’m with you
I have a greater plan
And you will see as you seek me
I am the Great I AM!

Remember Joseph’s brothers
They sold him as a slave
He then was thrown in prison
For being good and brave
But in the trials he prevailed
In spite of circumstance
He kept on moving, full of hope
He waited on God’s plan
In good time God took the evil
That his brother’s planned
And used each awful circumstance to
Prepare him for God’s plan.

So in the darkest hour
You really aren’t alone
And though it seems God’s absent
Praise Him in this storm
Wait upon the Father
To use it all for good
And you’ll shine in the darkness
Of this lost and broken world
Our Savior, God eternal
The King over all men
Our Great Light in the darkness
Beginning and the End
The lover of our poor, lost souls
The One who gave us breath
O wait on Him, with trusting hearts
For He is in control.

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Hope in our Frailty

God frequently uses people for His glory that we as humans would never choose. That fact gives me hope that no matter how insignificant, untalented, or floundering we or those we love might be, there is always hope. The bible is full of unlikely individuals that have made a vast difference in the world in spite of the odds. The very people you and I might pass over are often the ones that God chooses because he sees into the heart and chooses the ones that have a heart for Him. He doesn’t care about who we are, where we’re from, or how much money we have. With that in mind, who knows what God has in store for you and those you love!

A simple man with no big plans
No lofty goals consume him.
He didn’t come from wealth or gain
Nor high class education.
Most think he won’t amount to much
His future’s etched in stone,
But thank the Lord, God values man
By his heart alone.
A waitress working hard each day
Just trying to pay the bills.
She wasn’t born to silver spoon
Nor were her wants fulfilled.
Just working class and most would think
For her there’ll be no change;
But we don’t know, what God has planned
Nor what He has arranged.
God sees beyond her circumstance
Fulfilling hidden dreams.
Think about a fisherman,
Who worked in Galilee.
A simple man from lower class
He was no Pharisee.
He worked each day, just catching fish;
Obscure from most mankind.
Until the Son of God called out,
“Come fish for souls of man.”
From that moment forward
Peter was transformed,
When God perplexed the ways of man,
And shattered social norms.
David was the youngest son;
A simple shepherd boy.
He had no right to leadership;
Nor kingly path in store.
But God saw David differently
He cared not for mans rules;
For He knew David’s heart was right;
Humble, pure, and true.
God chose the one least obvious
To demonstrate His might;
And David’s place in history
Became Christ’s holy line.

 

God is not confined by man
We cannot know His mind.
He chooses those we least expect
To show that He is God.
He doesn’t look at privileged lives,
Nor beauty, fame, or brains.
He looks into the heart of man
And chooses in that way.
So if your life seems simple;
No wealth or fame in sight.
It really doesn’t matter,
For God only sees your heart.
Do you have a heart for Him?
A longing in your soul?
To serve and grow, to always change;
To give His love to all?
If you do, then rest assured
That God will bless you too.
And you will see what God has planned,
For someone just like you.

 

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Forgiving, Again

I’m sitting at my desk with the computer on, iPod playing with an inviting, warm mug of coffee sitting next to me.  They are waiting patiently for me to start work, but I don’t.  My feet are resting on the edge of my desk while I hold our big, fat cat in my lap.  She contentedly purrs and occasionally nuzzled me on the chin.  Absently, I notice how her soft, heavy, weight in my lap feels comforting.  I continue to stare out the window lost in thought.

My chest feels heavy like an invisible brick is pushing down hard between my breasts, my head aches, but it’s the heavy sensation on my chest that’s troubling me.  The weight isn’t the beginning of a heart attack; it’s the result of years of hurt.  This brick has been carefully constructed by the fibrous tissue of judgment, verbal abuse, bitterness, unjust behavior, self-protection, and un-forgiveness.  And it’s heavy, pressing down on my sternum making it hard to breathe.

The unusual thing about this brick is that it’s frequently weightless, as if gone from my life.  During this time my heart is hopeful and I want to spend time considering and praying about my relationships.  With a hopeful spirit I choose to forgive; I choose to lay my hurts down before God. I desire to draw closer to Him and see others through His eyes.

Then something happens to set off old patterns of abuse and hurtful words are hurled through the air and I feel the impact of them.   I feel them working their way into the brick, finding a comfortable resting place next to the other festering pain.  The brick is back, heavier than before, pressing mercilessly down on my sternum and I wonder how all those negative, hurtful emotions from the past can come back with such force after I have chosen to forgive and let them go. 

So, here I sit at my desk with every necessary tool for a productive day.  But instead of working, I watch the tree branches move to the rhythm of the wind while pondering the uncomfortable pressure of the emotional brick on my chest.  I want to know how to truly lay down the hurt from yesterday.  I want to forgive so deeply that past pain will not have the power to mix with and amplify the hurts of today.  But, I’m human and for some unknown reason God made us emotionally complex beings that feel passionately, struggle mightily, and desperately need His guidance.

With this knowledge I ask God for his forgiveness and help.  I acknowledge my pain is real, but so is theirs.  I admit my part in the situation, because I’m not innocent.  Then I thank God for the good within my loved one and within myself; we are both God’s children.  And the brick gets lighter; for now.  Each time I practice seeking God’s truth in the midst of emotional pain they strengthen me and give me courage to forgive, again.

I’m grateful that God’s forgiveness is not like that of humans, Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions (sins) from us.”  This verse is comforting and humbling; how can God forgive so completely?  I long to be able to forgive like God, but as of today, I don’t fully understand how to forgive the transgressions of others.  Maybe that’s the point. Maybe our seriously limited ability to forgive keeps us humble before God.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

 

 

Fear Not; He is With You!

Image result for God walking with us in a storm

The going was good, as they crossed Galilee
But as Jesus slept a squall come on the lee
The boat heaved and shook and was taking on water
The men cried in fear and thought they would falter
They wondered why Jesus didn’t care if they drowned
How could He just sleep while a storm raged around?

They finally woke Jesus and said “don’t you care
We’re going to drown in this storm: death is near”
He rose from His bed and said “Where is your faith”
And spoke to the storm and rebuked all the waves
The storm calmed that instant, His men stood amazed
They wondered and pondered His power that day.

That old fishing boat, would never have perished
And though things looked dark, the Lord God was present
But human anxiety, fear, and despair
Blinded their eyes to their Lord who was there
He calmed their storm, to grow them in faith
And to help them fear not, in storms and in waves.

When trouble rages all around and darkness hides your way
It may seem like the Lords asleep, but know that He’s awake
He knew your storm would happen, He knew the wind would rage
He knows just how He’ll bring you through, so rest, believe, and pray
Show Him that you trust Him, you are his chosen child
And praise His name, the King of Kings, He’s our Emmanuel.

Emmanuel: God with us
Matthew 8:24-32

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

God, My Only Savior!

praise

My heart is overwhelmed with thanks for Your unfailing love.
Your peace is resting in my heart its filled anew with trust.
I worship You and sing all praise to God, my only savior,
The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, I worship You forever.

You pick me up when I fall down, You make my burdens light.
Your hope pours deep into my heart and gives me brand new sight.
Oh make me clay in Your great hands; make me a shining vessel,
That I might be light in this world and overcome what’s evil.

I will not fear when trouble comes; my hands will not hang limp,
For El Shaddai is with me, when facing toil and stress.
The word says God delights in us and in His might will save,
He quiets us with His great love and we rise up with praise.

My spirit soars, My feet are light, I run and won’t grow weary.
He lifts us up on eagle’s wings above the dark and dreary.
I can’t believe that one so Great cares for this broken vessel,
I raise my hands, I give my heart to God, my only savior.

Bless Your holy name O God, Your ways are always just.
Let the Earth cry out Your praise; Your people bow in trust.
Holy, Holy is our God, whose peace can’t be surpassed,
We fall before You, El Elyon to You, we will hold fast.

El Shaddai – Lord God Almighty
El Elyon – The most High God

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

 

 

 

Changing Seasons

                     woman grateful

The weather is in that awkward stage of changing from one season to the next. It’s struggling to become spring with warm burst of sunshine and sweet cool breezes that encourages the daffodils and crocuses to bloom and gently beckons us outside to dig in the garden or walk in the woods. And some days it does just that. But on days like today, winter’s pull is strong not wanting to give up his control. The cold wind whips and tugs at my coat as the rain pelts my face and gray claims victory over the sky. However, winter can’t win this battle; he will lose allowing spring to rise and give birth hope.

In this I have faith, it has happened for millennia. There is order in the chaos of the seasons. There is a calm after the storm. There is rebirth in the spring, growth in the summer, dying back in the fall, and dormancy in the winter.

If I trust in the natural order of nature can I also accept the order of my life? Do I rest in the knowledge that my harsh winters will give way to spring?

Do I rest in the divine order and control of God or do I fret and fight when I perceive things aren’t right?   Battling with a delusional mind that believes I can conquer winter and produce spring using my strength alone.

Change is swirling around me. Winter’s darkness clawing at my spring. I stand in the storm bombarded by the winds, with hands on my hips I yell at winter with all my might. I’m in control … of nothing!

I crumble from strain weeping, defeated. Eventually, I see spring’s light radiate from an opening in the clouds and remember God’s promises. I call to Him for help and He hears me. He wraps His arms around me, lifts me up to my feet and supports me through the storm giving birth to my spring.

Debora Shelford Hobbs

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

I spoke to the air, as if it could hear me,
And said “All I want is just to be happy!”
I asked with frustration, “Where does happiness lie?
I’ve searched but can’t find it, though I try and try.
I’m making more money; I bought a lake house,
I bought my dream car and got a new spouse,
I’m climbing the ladder and buying more things,
Some people might say that I’m living the dream.
But each time my happiness just fades away,
When I thought for certain, it finally would stay.”

A little old lady tapped me on the shoulder,
And said “Dear please hear me, for I am much older.
I once was like you…I lived to be happy,
But all I became was selfish and shabby.
It took many years for truth to come clear,
That nothing on Earth can keep happiness near.
Nothing we buy or those we hold dear,
Nor status or title, or money to spare.
Happiness really is just an emotion,
That shifts like the sand and moves like the ocean.
What we love today, changes tomorrow,
And chasing and grasping, will only bring sorrow.”

“I learned that joy flows from a heart that is grateful.
And never depends on what’s set on my table.
I realized that God has planted me here,
It’s my job to bloom where I am, without fear.
To become my best, in each situation,
To love others more than my selfish obsessions,
To pray for my needs, then let go of the answers,
For God is all-sovereign and He knows what matters.
When you’re discontent, tell the Lord… He will help you.
And ask for a heart that is changed and renewed.”

“The Bible says clearly to seek first our Lord,
It changes the heart and the things we adore.
God knows all our needs and He sees our hearts,
Tell Him your desires, for He is our source.
Rejoice every day in God’s perfect allotment.
Let thankfulness reign and live life with contentment.
As we wait on the Lord, He gives joy everlasting,
And fills up our hearts with whatever is lacking.”

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

 

Are You There God?

 

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Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my breaking heart?

Do you care God, that my strength is gone?

My body and mind are numb.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my parents, ravaged with dementia?

Drooling and muttering, not knowing my name.

I no longer exist to them.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Can you see my friend lost in mental illness?

Homeless, clueless, mad at the world

Unable to make decisions for his own best interest.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

Diligently I work, giving my all

While others refuse to contribute

Then take credit for the results as their own.

 

Are you there God, listening to my prayer?

My loved one is addicted and lives in denial

It’s always someone else’s fault

They’ve mastered the art of victimhood.

 

Are you there God, Listening to my prayer?

The world is crazy, out of control.

Good is called evil and evil good.

Those who speak truth are shunned.

Those who speak lies are called leaders.

 

I cry out to God, my heart is breaking.

God, do you hear my prayer?

Are you aware of my loved ones pain?

Please show me that you are there.

 

God answers in His word

Yes, I am here

I am near the brokenhearted and save the crushed in spirit.

I will wipe away every tear from your eye.

 

I am your fortress and high tower

I will wrap my wings for protection around you

My power is made perfect in weakness

I will never leave you nor forsake you

 

I will renew your strength.

You will soar on wings like eagles;

You will run and not grow weary,

You will walk and not be faint.

 

God is our refuge and strength,

An ever-present help in trouble.

Even in darkness my light shines.

Yes, I am with you.  I am Here.

 

Debora Shelford Hobbs

STAND UP

fear1

Stand up  stand up, don’t be afraid for God is with you now
The times are dark but you will shine as at His feet you bow
You may feel weak and timid; you may seem tired and lost
But know that you are strong through Him; the one who paid our cost
Do not shrink back from holiness; the future, do not fear
For as you stand, He’ll cover you; your chains will disappear.

Trust God inside life’s battles; Fix all your hope on Him
Don’t run ahead and fix things, wait on Him instead
He lets His children struggle, to change our stubborn hearts
He stretches us and molds us, to Godly works of art
Be not conformed unto this world, don’t seek the easy way
For if our savior did that, we’d still be lost today.

Stand strong and courageous; obey God’s holy word
For when the way is darkened then you will stand assured
For we’re His mighty army, we’re here to take the land
We’re salt unto a dying earth; an extension of God’s hand
So fear not in the battle; our fight is not with man
For satan is the liar that seeks to crush God’s plan.

But our God reigns eternal; the battle He has won
And one day soon all knees will bow as darkness becomes dawn
Shout out to Him your worship; exalt Him in the land
Lets open wide our hardened hearts and be clay in His hands
All glory, praise, and honor, belongs to Him alone
The holy one who conquered sin, let’s bow before His throne!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

The Comfort of God

 ocean path

I know God is real. I know God is ever present. I know God loves and cares about me and yet, when I see his hand undeniably present in my life I’m humbled beyond measure. Last weekend my husband and I had the privilege of seeing God directly comfort us in a time of trouble and I want to share our story with you so you can be blessed by it too and be reminded that God’s ever present hand of comfort is always on His children.

Like many families, we have a relative who struggles with mental illness. In our family it’s my husband’s oldest brother. He has struggled with the demons of that terrible disease most of his adult life. The difficult job of helping him navigate the world was filled by his parents and different government services. That is until their bodies gave way to old age and their minds crumbled under the curse of dementia.

For the last four years my husband and I have stepped in and taken over for his parents attempting to keep his brother safe, housed, and following the rules of different social services. As many of you know, some mentally ill people aren’t big on following rules and in fact can view them as an enemy. So when my husband would encourage his brother to clean his apartment so he wouldn’t be kicked out he was met with verbal abuse. Caring for an adult mentally ill sibling is not of easy. Caring for elderly parents with dementia is heart wrenching and stressful. Caring for both at the same time requires help from God!

Eventually he was kicked out of his apartment and spent a few months living in the local Gospel Mission until finally an agency found him a small apartment in a seedy part of town. We moved him in, warned him to follow the rules or he would lose this apartment, too. Within a year he was kicked out and once again living in the Gospel Mission.

The thing about staying at the mission is there is a limit to the length of time one is allowed to stay and my brother in-law’s time was up yesterday. I’ve spent hours calling different agencies seeking shelter for him; but the truth is he’s burned every bridge within these organizations. One lady who has dealt with him for years said the most loving thing we can do is let him fall; let him live on streets. It’s the best way to help him understand that he needs help from others and he must comply with the rules.

As you can imagine, my husband was consumed with guilt and grief about his brother, we talked frequently about what we should/could do? We wondered what our responsibility before God was. My husband was weighed down by the responsibility of both his brother and his parents.

Seeking a little relief from the stress we went to the ocean for the weekend. Sunday morning while walking down a trail high above the beach we happened upon a group of women singing “How Great Is Our God” our hearts were touched and we continued walking, quietly singing the song to ourselves. A sense of worshipfulness filled us both. Once we descended the stairs to the beach, we headed to the hard packed sand, and there written in large letters was ‘Psalm 46:1’. Curious, my husband looked up the verse on his phone and read out loud, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” We both cried. God was wrapping us in a big God hug through His word.

But wait, there’s more. Monday morning before work my husband was reading the Bible and randomly decided to read from a book he’s never read before. Looking at the list of minor profits he decided to read from Nahum, possibly the most obscure book of the Old Testament. Turning to Nahum his eyes landed on Nahum 1:7 “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.” Tears welled up in his eyes, yes, God was hugging him.

What a personal God we have! God knew my husband and I needed extra comfort and strength; that we were at the end of our own and in love God wrapped His strong arms around us through His word. God is good even when life is tough. As Christians we aren’t promised a trouble free life; we suffer like all other humans. What we are promised is God’s comfort and wisdom while going through our very human existence. My brother in-law is out on the streets and my in-laws won’t find healing until they’re in heaven. Even though this is true, a greater truth is God is with us, comforting us, hugging us.

Debora Shelford-Hobbs

 

A Letter of Joy

                    Letter of Joy

Tears slid down Leanna’s face while she read the ESPN article about her brother’s life. She knew the story was coming out, they’d interviewed her for it, but somehow it still hurt. Ben had been brilliant, charming, a gifted strategist, and a hard worker; a coaching superstar. The talking heads proclaimed him virtually unstoppable, at the top of his game and predicted he’d move on to the NFL soon. With remarkable speed Ben had scaled the equivalent of Mount Everest in the coaching world; coaching football at a Top 10 University. Leanna’s mind drifted back in time reliving the excitement of watching him coach; he’d been so passionate and animated, a sideshow worth watching. Rubbing her weeping eyes she squinted once again at the computer screen.

Eventually all coaches hit a losing streak that shakes their confidence and leaves them questioning their sanity. Ben’s losing streak found him unprepared and ill-equipped to handle the stress. Many coaches seek counseling or religion to deal with it, but Ben chose to find solace in booze. The truth is, he’d been using alcohol as a coping tool for years; a life pattern had been set. Unfortunately after the losing streak ended, his drinking didn’t.   The respect he once held with other coaches on his team began to diminish and before long he was on probation. For a while Ben was able to hang onto his pinnacle position with the help of well-meaning coworkers, friends, and family who made excuses for his erratic behavior. Ultimately, he was fired and soon after that his wife filed for divorce. The golden boy was losing his sheen. A smaller university hired then fired him; a pattern that repeated itself many times over the next ten years.

Eventually, Ben found himself coaching a small, unknown team in Italy. It’s a long, lonely road from the top of the coaching world to the bottom and Ben’s decent had been a slow, painful, journey marked by failed coaching positions and relationships. He was self-destructive and it appeared to all his decent was unstoppable, and there it was written on the internet for all the world to read. She felt Ben’s life was being invaded and violated.

Leanna pressed back in her chair then stretched out like a starfish. It was so devastating having her brother’s life spread over the internet, waiting for judgment from all who read it. She could hear them saying, “what a loser, a mess, and a failure.” The article focused almost entirely on his faults as if there was nothing good left inside him. Over his ten year decent he’d gone to rehab twice and stayed sober for almost a year each time, but then something would trigger his addiction and he’d lose another job.

Ben and Leanna had had a tough childhood that left deep emotional scars on both. Leanna turned to Christianity to help heal those scares while Ben chose alcohol. He had been accepting of her faith and attended church with her when he visited. Thoughtful by nature, he sent her and the kids little trinkets from wherever he’d found work. He called regularly to see how she and the kids were doing, usually his words were slurred and his voice altered by the alcohol, but she was always grateful to hear his voice. Each phone call ended with her praying for him and the few times she’d forgotten to pray he’d say, “Aren’t you going to pray?” This warmed her heart and gave her hope. For Leanna’s part she’d send him Christian books about athletes who had turned their lives around by trusting God or music with a Christ centered message with hopes of softening his heart toward God. He read the books and would ask questions about the content, but never took the initial step toward belief in God.

The call notifying her of Ben’s death had come in the middle of the night. She would never forget the shock, disbelief, and bone crushing grief she felt at that moment. Leanna had laid in bed sobbing for hours mourning his life and his lost chance for redemption. The first week after Ben’s death she cried out God in frustration and disappointment, how could He let Ben die without saving him first. After a week of being mad at God and questioning His love she made an appointment to talk with her pastor. She needed answers.

How could she trust a God who didn’t answer the one prayer that lay deepest in her heart? Heading to the car for her appointment with the pastor she walked across the street to collect the mail. Absentmindedly thumbing through it she suddenly stopped. There tucked between the electric bill and junk mail was a letter from Ben. At first she just held it, as if holding her brother. Carefully she opened it not wanting to damage anything he’d touched. The letter started off newsy, his job was fine although the players were dumb as logs and slow as slugs. The food was good but his apartment was small and moldy. The second paragraph started with, “I’ve something to tell you that will make you happy, very happy. I’ve been rereading all those books you sent and started watching some preachers online and well, I’m saved now. For the first time in years my spirit feels light. Did you know that God loves you even when you’ve been a complete screw up? I have a father now, it’s God; couldn’t ask for a better father. We, you and I, couldn’t have a more faithful father, God is good. Thank you for praying for me all those years. I get it now.”

Leanna reached over and picked up Ben’s letter. “Let them talk, I know who you were. You were brilliant, thoughtful, sincere, and charming, a gifted strategist, a hard worker, and an amazing coach. But most of all you are my brother and a son of God, forgiven and renewed in Christ.” She turned off the computer realizing the letter in her hand, a gift from God, held all the info she needed to know about her brother. “Thank you God, you are faithful all the time.”

Debora Shelford Hobbs

Victory is Our Call!

victory

God has not abandoned you though you may feel He has
He sees a bigger picture that we can’t comprehend
So rest inside your trials, take a cleansing breath
Know that God is there with you, when life’s a swirling mess.

Sometimes the trials come in waves; they slap us to and fro
We pray with all our heart for change and cry out from our soul
We want the pain to stop right now and wonder why it’s there
It seems like prayers aren’t answered and feels like Gods not there.

But God is up to something, far greater than we know
He sees things through eternity; we see our weary souls
He uses the hot fire to cleanse and change our hearts
To make us more like Jesus so strongholds will depart.

We say we can’t take anymore; our strength is at its end
But that’s when God’s great power, will fill you from within
Let His strength wash over you; Let His courage fill your heart
And deeper faith will shine so bright into a world that’s dark.

Instead of closing off your heart and fainting with despair
Open wide your heart to God and tell him every fear
Ask for grace to face each day with fearless hearts that trust
Ask God to use the trials, for something pure and good.

So fear not in the trials; know God has a plan
Allow His strength to bear your yoke; unclench your weary hands
He loves you without waver and wants to see you whole
So trust Him in the fire and yield your heart and soul.

Good shall come if you will wait and walk in childlike faith
Surrendering your will and wants to God’s eternal ways
So face the storms with courage; stand up straight and tall
You are a child of the King and victory is your call!

Rhonda Shelford Jansen

Contentment vs. Complacency

 

Contentment vs. Complacency

                               contentment

Complacency: a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better. An instance of usually unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction.

Contentment: The state of being happy and satisfied: the state of being content. Content: Pleased and satisfied: not needing more.

Lately I’ve been contemplating the difference between contentment and complacency. What does a contented life look like and how is it different from a life lived complacently. The Bible says we should be content in every situation; how does one do that? Looking for answers, I read the definitions of both words in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and realized that the second word of each definition sets them apart. It says that complacency is a feeling while contentment is a state of mind.

What is the difference between a feeling and a state of mind? A feeling is temporary. Our feelings change during the course of a day, every day.  We can start the day feeling happy, enjoying the smell of coffee and contemplating our schedule.  About mid-morning the phone rings and a family member carelessly offends us with harsh words.  Instantly our happy feeling becomes one of hurt and insecurity.  Our feelings are real and important however, they are temporal and forever in flux.

 A state of mind seldom changes and is based on our belief system. Feelings affect our day, while a state of mind affects our future. This is powerful; when the Bible says we should live contentedly, it’s saying we need to live each day believing in God’s faithfulness. Believing that God is in control, has a master plan for our lives, and is taking care of our needs. That’s why Paul could say in Philippians 4: 11-13 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  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, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Paul’s state of mind was that of contentment, firmly grounded in his faith in God.

While researching the difference between state of mind and feelings I learned that feelings can slowly morph into our state of mind. That’s why it’s important for us to carefully monitor our negative feelings. Unchecked, they will slowly change our state of mind. I found a list that shows how this morphing takes place. Anger can become resentment, sadness – depression, envy – jealously, embarrassment – shame, disgust – hatred, and fear – paranoia. All of which are not part of living a contented life. In fact, if these negative feelings are left to fester in our thoughts, they will grow, eventually becoming our state of mind. A state of mind controlled by negativity and defeat.

Another difference between complacency and contentment is that complacency doesn’t desire to make the situation better and usually has a component of unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction. On the other hand, contentment doesn’t need change, but doesn’t resist it and is firmly based on the promises of God.  A contented person could happily stay where they are or accept change because their contentment is based in faith, not in feelings. Faith by its very nature grows therefore, I believe a contented person will be actively engaged in the process of growing and improving all areas of their life.  Motivated by contentment not discontentment.

May your state of mind be one of contentment.

Isaiah 23:3-4   you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

 Debora Shelford Hobbs