As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness. Psalm 17:15
Satisfaction and contentment are two of the hardest virtues for us to cultivate in our contemporary culture. For most of us, from the moment we open our eyes each morning, we enter into a battle for peace, struggling to hold fast to the goodness and love of God. We find ourselves spending hours each day allowing relationships, media, and social media feeds to define our sense of identity, our expectation of affluence, and vision of what is important and worthy of our attention and affection. This cycle of desire and discontent can become if we aren’t careful, the constant posture of our lives.
Into this chaos, the LORD speaks peace over us and over his creation. He extends an offer of freedom, inviting us to reframe our understanding of self and the world in light of the self-giving love shown in Jesus. And in his written Word, we are reminded that our satisfaction is directly linked to our ability to intimately abide with him.
How would you define the first emotions of your day? Family brokenness may quickly rush you into a place of anxiety. Perhaps it’s simple exhaustion from a struggle to sleep through the night. You may find yourself in an abusive and toxic work environment, and so most mornings bring with them a sense of fear or even anger towards coworkers or your boss. Is it possible to join our hearts and lives with the psalmist when they say, “when I awake I shall be satisfied?”
Our ability to enjoy a satisfied life is directly linked to our willingness to behold the LORD in his beauty and faithfulness, allowing this likeness to be restored and remade within us. We are constantly tempted to allow all sorts of sub-identities to become our primary identities. When we view ourselves primarily as an employee, our satisfaction or discontent is therefore dependent upon how well our job is going. The same is true of countless other identities that we take on: parent, child, athlete, collector, enthusiast. The list could go on and on. These identities contribute to who we are, yet they are all secondary to the primary identity that you and I bear: daughter or son of God.
As beloved children, we are set free to find our satisfaction in the goodness of God and the work of his Spirit within us, growing us day by day into people who reflect that image in every area of life. As we do this, our joy, contentment, and satisfaction is no longer dependent upon our circumstances but instead transforms them, speaking peace and hope over even the darkest parts of our hearts and lives.
Prayer: Father, teach us what it means to truly find our satisfaction in you alone, freeing us from lesser loves that only bring sorrow, anxiety, and pain. Amen.
The Metamorphosis by Kelly McFadden (Love the visual!)
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. –Romans 5:3-5
There is a story of a boy who found a caterpillar and brought it home. Shortly thereafter, the caterpillar began building her cocoon. The boy knew that one day, when the time was right, she would emerge and spread her beautiful wings. The boy couldn’t wait! So each day he checked on his caterpillar until one day he noticed a tiny hole. It was time. But as the boy watched, he could see that the butterfly was struggling. So, with a pair of scissors, he carefully opened the cocoon to free the butterfly. The butterfly emerged, but her wings were small and shriveled and her body, swollen. The butterfly never flew.
What the boy came to learn was that part of the metamorphosis for the butterfly, was the struggle. In order for the butterfly to fly, it needed to work its way through the small hole. That is how it builds its wing and body strength to fly. Even though the boy was trying to help, in the end, he hurt the butterfly.
A lot of times, if given the option between the difficult path versus the easy path, I readily choose the latter. It is not pleasant to suffer or struggle. But oftentimes, it is a part of the process of growth. It is true: We grow most through experiences that push us to our limits. Yet regularly, we avoid the struggle ourselves, or else as parents, we help our kids avoid the struggle. In the end, like the boy, instead of helping ourselves or others, we only cause long-term hurt.
It seems bizarre to rejoice in our sufferings, but the story of the butterfly illustrates why it is not necessarily a bad thing to go through trying times. This is where growth comes. God uses life’s difficulties to help us grow into stronger and better people. These problems develop perseverance, which in turn deepens our character. This then leads to hope, because it deepens our trust and relationship with God.