Fear and Contentment

If you tune into the weather today, you’ll no doubt notice that our country’s eastern seaboard mid-section is about to get creamed again by another snow storm.  Weather is always one of those things that raises everyone’s level of discontent: my niece and nephews are perfectly content with that pile of snow about to hit.  No school, more snow-ball fights, hot chocolate as far as the eye can see….Now their mother is not likely to share all of their excitements or their enthusiasm.  She digs the snow, but no one digs it like kids.

We get spared from the snow around here and that’s a source of content and discontent, too.  (I’m happy as a clam to avoid it; my kids, predictably, aren’t.)  Weather is a gift of God for a lot of reasons but one of them surely is so we can practice contentment.  Believers in Christ would give the north-south on whether they should be content, “Of course, we should be.”  The question is, “How?”

Fear is the key to contentment.  Once, when strength and vigor were mine in abundance (ahem), I was standing on an airbase tarmac with a parachute strapped to my back.  Anyone who knows will tell you that it is STRAPPED to you – around the waist, through the legs, over the shoulders, across the chest.  No one should be allowed to stand in that condition for very long; it is profoundly uncomfortable.  Yet, the fear of great injury that might’ve resulted if it hadn’t been as tight as it needed to be resulted in my contentment.

The fear of the Lord is the key to godly contentment.  This is different than the base-servile fear that comes with a parachute.  This kind of fear leads to a kind of life where blessings come and contentment follows.  But is all starts with fear.

The psalmist writes (128:1-2) “Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!  You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed and it shall be well with you.”  Notice the relationship between fear and blessing?  Press ahead to Psalm 131 and you have one who is greatly content:

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.  But I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.

We look in vain for contentment outside of the fear of the Lord.  Fear Him first and the rest will surely follow.