This is not a "Prosperity Gospel" article. I am not about to layout the secret steps to get rich fast and live the American Dream. After all, contentment would not come from money or possessions, though the enemy likes to make us believe that it would. When it comes down to it, our anxiety and frustrations are usually the result of materialistic things. I would be happy if only I _________. Fill in the blank: Had that job promotion; Had that new house; got married to the man/woman of my dreams.
“God doesn't promise you health, wealth and an attractive spouse... but he does promise to satisfy you and there's a massive difference.”
― Stephen Altrogge,
Actually, the secret comes from nothing materialistic at all. The secret to contentment is very simple, and it does not require heroic acts of devotion. No, in fact it requires a childlike response from us. The secret is beautifully summed up in this phrase: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5).
Jesus described the kind of experience he wants us to know:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. . . . [For] your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (Luke 12:22, 30–31)
Can it Be That Simple?
Yes, it is that simple. Jesus is the author of all creation. He is the maker of everything and nothing is outside of His control. We are called to have a childlike faith trusting that God is on our side and that He will take care of our needs. "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Matthew 6) No matter who we are, no matter what our gifts and abilities, no matter what our background, it comes down to trusting God with all our heart. (John 14:1). Trusting is simple... But it is by no means easy.
Why is it so hard?
We live in a fallen sinful world, a spiritual world where wars unseen are taking place everyday. "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6) Satan is the author of lies and is very good at it. He will do whatever it takes to make us turn away from God. He entices us with empty promises of satisfaction and pleasure. We are warned in Proverbs 7:
21With persuasive words she led him astray;
she seduced him with her smooth talk.
22 All at once he followed her
like an ox going to the slaughter,
like a deer stepping into a noose
23 till an arrow pierces his liver,
like a bird darting into a snare,
little knowing it will cost him his life
Struggling with Sin
…17So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.…
There is nothing good in us. After the fall of man in Eden, we were separated from God through sin. All of us have sinned and deserve death. So Jesus came to save us from our sin, offering us freedom through Grace. All we need to do is trust Him and we will be free from anxiety, fear, and death. However, though we are now saved by grace rather than works, our faith is proven by our works.
Faith and Works
…17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." 19You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.…
Trusting God is the secret:
- To forgiving those who have sinned against us (Ephesians 4:32).
- To turning away from sexual temptation (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
- To giving generously to kingdom needs, even beyond your means (2 Corinthians 8:3).
- To not allowing material abundance to choke the word in us (Matthew 13:22).
- To rejoicing even when sorrowful (2 Corinthians 6:10).
- To contentment even when experiencing deprivation (Philippians 4:12).
- To boldness even in the face of fearful threats (Acts 4:29).
- To peace even when facing pressured trials (Philippians 4:6–7).
- To joy even when enduring withering affliction and illness (2 Corinthians 1:3–5).
- To hope when all around our soul gives way (Psalm 42:11).
- To gracious patience under pressured labors (Colossians 1:11).
- To blessing those who persecute us (Romans 12:14).
- To courage in leaving family and property for Jesus’s sake (Matthew 19:29).
- To overcoming discouragement due to adversity and weakness (2 Corinthians 12:10).
- To not allowing indwelling sin to reign over or condemn us (Romans 6:12, 8:1).
- To loving saints who sin and sinful unbelievers (John 15:12; Romans 12:10; Romans 9:1–3).
- To facing every other fear and anxiety-producing temptation.
God promises to give us peace and contentment if we trust him (Philippians 4:6–7). He really wants us to experience them in increasing measure, even here in this troubled world (John 16:33). So he has given us the simple, hard secret: Trust me. It is the only way.