Series: Contentment. Part
In the last three devotions, we’ve been looking at the value of cultivating contentment in our lives. In the first devotion, “Godliness with contentment is great gain”, I wrote:
“As hard as it is to see, we are often frustrated and dissatisfied with life because fundamentally we don’t trust how God is taking care of us. We depend too much on outward things for our joy and peace.
But at the core of a discontented heart is unbelief and rebellion against God’s rule in my life, which includes what I have, who I am, and the high and low points of my life. We will only be contented people if we recognize and confess the sin of discontentment, replacing it with a deep trust in God’s goodness and sufficiency.”
In this final devotion on contentment, I will be focusing on how to replace discontentment with a deep trust in God’s goodness and sufficiency.
Training our eyes.
I’ve often noticed that my heart grows discontented when I become too accustomed to the goodness of God and start taking it for granted:
I no longer notice the bright moon above the front door greeting me when I arrive home at night.
I ignore the little birds chirping on my window sill in the morning.
I don’t see God’s provision in the delicious food in front of me or his kindness in the smile on our Golden Retriever’s face.
I’m distracted when I hear another story of God’s redemptive work in someone’s life.
Discontent creeps in quietly when our spiritual eyes are dull to the goodness of God all around us. It’s as though we are wearing blinders. Sometimes our eyes are unable to see and appreciate the goodness of God, because we are too distracted to see the powerful evidence of Him right in front of us.
Today we will use Psalm 145 to train our eyes to see five demonstrations of God’s goodness. It is a wonderful Psalm of praise that David sung to remind himself of a time when all people will join together in recognizing and worshipping the Lord of Lords.
I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
4 One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
5 They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
7 They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
9 The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.
14 The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.
- Seeing the creativity of God.
This Psalm is an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This in itself is a wonderful testimony to the creativity and order of God, who has created human beings in his own image to create beautiful art, music and poetry. As God speaks to us through language, so too David creates a God-honouring poem with words, ink and papyrus. Three thousand years later, we are still praising God through David’s poem.
- Seeing the majesty of the King! (Ps 145:1-2; 13)
A foolproof way to cure spiritual myopia is to lift our eyes to the exalted King in heaven. David piled praises on God, declaring His greatness and worthiness. It is ungrateful and dishonouring to withhold our praise from the legitimate King of the universe.
Jesus Christ is God’s installed King! The nations are his inheritance and the very ends of the earth are his possession (Ps 2:6; 8). It is only the Lord Jesus who is worthy to be praised and worshipped in this way, not ourselves or any other power on this earth. Yet paradoxically, Jesus is also the King who is near to his people, the gentle and lowly King who rode through Jerusalem on a donkey (Matt 21:5).
Do we see Christ as the Warrior King who must reign in heaven until he has put all his enemies under his feet?(1 Cor 15:25) Do we see Him as the righteous King who will soon ride out of heaven with his army of angels? His return to earth will signal the end of all false powers and He will be recognized by all as “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS! (Rev 19:16)
Lest we get blinded by the power plays of politicians and the Prince of this world, we’d better train our eyes on the everlasting King that Daniel foretold:
“And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and men of every language
Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:14)
- Seeing God’s generational acts of redemption! (Ps 145:4)
David looked to God’s great redemption acts which spanned generations: “One generation shall praise your works to another.”
To see God’s wonderful saving works more clearly, why not ask an older person to inspire you with memories of how Christ redeemed them and to recall the victories that Christ has given them over sin, Satan and the world?
Let’s ask our children and grandchildren, or the teens and children in our church to tell us of the fresh and new acts of grace that God is doing in their lives. Let’s never become insular, bored or stale about declaring God’s redemptive works to one another!
Spurgeon directs our eyes to see each generation as an essential chapter in God’s book of redemptive history:
“The generations shall herein unite: together they shall make up an extraordinary history. Each generation shall contribute its chapter, and all the generations together shall compose a volume of matchless character.”
- Seeing His wonderful provision! (Ps 145:6-7; 15-16)
If we don’t want to become blind to the goodness of God, we must talk to one another often about His mighty works of redemption!
Do we see God as the Creator who opens his hand to satisfy the desires of every living thing? (Ps 145:16) Do we see Him as the source of all our daily needs? (Ps 145:15-16) Do we see God’s abundant goodness on earth?
David had eyes to see the beautiful care and tender mercies that God pours into all that He does and makes. All of creation is in David’s view, not just his own life. As Jesus would later say, “God also cares for the birds and the grass of the field” (Matt 6:26-30). He cares for all His creation.
If our Creator’s generous provision no longer thrills us, is it possible that we’ve been spending too much time distracted by screens and devices? Spending more time in nature will open our eyes to see how awesomely God has created all things out of nothing and how He upholds all things by his power.
This BBC video of a little puffer fish reminded me this week of God’s wonderful works of creation, most of which we will never see with our own eyes.
- Seeing God’s kindness and justice (Ps 145:8-9; 13; 17-21)
David looked to YHWH’s own description of Himself in Exodus to describe God’s character:
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Ex 34:6).
David saw God’s kindness and justice (or righteousness) as the basis for his assurance that “the Lord is near to all those who call on Him in truth” (Ps 145:18). Because of God’s kindness and justice, David could be confident that His God always watches over those who love him and that He will judge the wicked (Ps 145:20). God’s kindness and his justice are two facets of his goodness.
There is no greater demonstration of God’s kindness and justice than Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for sinners like you and me (Rom 3:26). “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
But do we always see that the Lord is good to “all that He has made?” David saw that God is not partial or stingy in handing out his compassion and kindness. He is a gracious, promise-keeping God (Ps 145:13). He is the same God whom Peter describes a thousand years later: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
David saw that God’s kindness is especially evident to those who fall and fail, yet keep looking up and putting their trust in Him (Ps 145:14).
Father, give us eyes to see your goodness. Take off the blinders of our sinful desires, discontent and grumbling. Show us your creativity. Show us your majesty as King and the beauty of your everlasting Kingdom. Show us your mighty acts of redemption that span across generations. Give us eyes to see your wonderful provision, compassion and kindness to all that you have made. Train our eyes not to doubt or be distracted from your goodness. Give us eyes to see our struggles, sins and sorrows in the light of your goodness, grace and glory. Give us an enduring vision of your goodness so that we will rest in contentment in any and every situation. Amen.
My youngest daughter sent me this song about the goodness of God in all of creation.