For several years now, we’ve not been in the best financial place, and I admit sometimes I complain. I look around me, and I see people living a different kind of life, and I can whine about my life.
In a strange twist, I’m now surrounded by families who have chosen to live a more simple lifestyle so they have money to give to ministry. These people are awesome, and NOTHING I say here is to put them down, but it’s had a strange effect on me. I use them sometimes to give myself permission to complain.
You see, my simple-living friends still have cars. They still go on vacation, put glasses on their kids, eat out sometimes, own mobile phones, go to the dentist, and put their kids in extra-curricular activities. And the list goes on. Not all of them do all these things, but the truth is most people who choose a simpler life still choose one a lot more secure than mine, so I figure, Hey, See, even the people living simply for God live better than me, so I should be allowed to complain.
Of course this isn’t true, and God usually sends a few harsh images my way when I get like this. There are people who live in dumps in this world, He reminds me. You are not them. There are refugees unwanted by any nation who have the clothes on their backs and a daily ration of food and nothing else. You are not them. You’ve never watched your child starve or sold your daughter to feed your other kids. What are you complaining about??
And then I stop complaining, at least for a while. This week, though, I realized something. Biblically, none of us are to complain. All of us are to be content. Yes, we can move from a bad situation to a better one–God never says stay in a bad place if a better one is offered, but he did say live in peace where you are at the moment.
You know what that means? The refugees have to be content. The homeless and disenfranchised–if they know God, they are asked to be content. That blows me away. What it means is we have to be content without comparing ourselves to others. I look down the line, if you will, to remind myself to be content, but some truly have nobody worse than them for comparison. But if I’m doing this right, I can find contentment in Christ alone. No human comparisons necessary.
I’m not there yet. I’d love to be. But if I fill my head with The Word and stop the comparisons and focus where I need to focus, I will find contentment in all situations, just as the Apostle Paul did. And nowhere does it tell me I have the right to complain.
Friends, in a new endeavor, I’ve self-published a book, and within a couple weeks it will be joined by another. Right now I’ve put out a Christian teen novel, and in October I will add Christian Fantasy novels. If you have any interest, check out my writing website at www.jillpenrod.com