The Apostle Paul: “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer.”
~Philippians 1:21-22 (NRSV)
Opening the letter to the Philippians we might imagine Paul gushing with joy upon a theophany of spiritual grandeur; he is in a no-lose situation—entirely happy however life is or is to become (see also Philippians 4:11).
He imagines both scenarios—to die now or to live for Christ in the body—as being of equally intriguing proportions. He willingly goes either way at the special behest of the Lord. The simple obedience is the best obedience, and Paul delights in the pleasure of doing it.
The Christian Contentment
We ordinarily associate with Philippians a joy that is insurmountable unless by Christian opportunity; our argument is the non-Christian cannot understand what appears to be so logical. Spiritual sight must first be gifted the person—the willingness of open eyes and ears to imagine God by faith.
Yet, the gift is freely available, as is the contentment that goes with the gift—that rare ability to take life, however painfully or awkward it may be, and simply accept, with a casual spirit-smile, ‘whatever’ for whatever it may be.
In this way the Christian contentment agrees with God to let God be God.
Dead or alive the Christian is happy. And though there may be more wins and more losses, either way, such gains and losses are counted a trifling pittance in comparison with the knowledge of God, which comes despite life in the body.
The Christian contentment, then, is the envy of those confused regarding God and life, in their living without hope, yet pretending to be hopeful. A Christian’s contentment is just as it is, because when life is taken just as it is, contentment there is abounding.
Then it can be seen, also, by those magnificently discontented with life, such a contentment is both maddening, ridiculously surreal; an uncommon insanity.
This same Christian contentment worries not about the losses and sees mainly only benefit whenever the permeation of multiple options are explored.
Committing to Joyfulness
Many of us have had seasons of joylessness, and, as a consequence, when we at last found joy—at the bosom of God, by salvation in the Lord Jesus—we sprang forth with incredible and inspiring hope that knew no bounds in our mortal beings.
Committing to joyfulness is the Christian way.
Just like Paul, the Christian takes life truthfully to its core, yet still there is joy, despite all willing recognition of sorrow.
Committing to joyfulness is about finding life as it is, accepting same, and biding with every sense of possibility and, in that, letting God be God. We are readily fitted with joy at our request. This way, life is a constant prayer of praise.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.