A Holy Struggle
"Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God. A little criticism makes me angry, and a little rejection makes me depressed. A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me. It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down. Often I am like a small boat on the ocean, completely at the mercy of its waves. All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival: not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me." (Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son, pg. 42)
Lately, I have felt very much like a small, vulnerable boat tossing about and struggling to stay afloat in a vast sea. Just after I think I’ve learned how to stay upright, some new struggle crashes into me and upsets my delicate balance. Recently I have been hit by a wave of discontentment. Hurt, disappointment, and sadness have left me asking “Why me? Why this? Why does my life never seem to work out as nicely and perfectly as other people’s lives?”
Tonight I heard someone describe joy as knowing that God loves me. Contentment is closely linked with joy, thus I believe contentment could also be described as knowing that God loves me. I needed that reminder because sometimes I do not think I fully comprehend the extent and the depth of God’s love for me. Consequently I allow my joy, my contentment, and my peace to be exchanged for anxiety, worry, and depression.
So let’s think about God’s love for a moment, okay? Have you ever been hurt by someone, even someone who loves you deeply? God will never hurt you. Have you ever felt alone, isolated, and vulnerable? God is ever near you. Have you ever felt inadequate and unworthy? God loves to work through our weaknesses. Have you ever had relationships that change and grow apart? God never changes on us. Have you ever been disappointed by other people? God will never disappoint. Have you ever felt you needed to act a certain way or be a certain type of person in order to be loved and accepted? God’s love is unconditional.
You have likely heard all of those things before, but have you ever thought about what they really mean? Such love is not found anywhere on earth. And yet each of us is loved with that love, that complete, perfect, faithful love. When I contemplate God’s love for me and what it actually looks like, what it really means, I am astounded, I am grateful, I am inspired – I am content.
I urge you, girls, to consider God’s love: What are its qualities? How is it evident in your life? Try to wrap your mind around the knowledge that God loves you with a love that is so perfect and so incomprehensible.
That process, I am learning, is one of the keys to contentment.