by Robert Brow (www.brow.on.ca) Kingston, Ontario, 2006
In the days before farms were mechanized, a cow might have given the following account of her stewardship. "I spend all day in the meadow doing what I like. I eat grass flavored with daisies. Then I sit down and chew the cud. Or just pass the day in the sunshine with the other cows. After a good night’s sleep my udders are full, and every morning a milk maid gently squeezes the milk from my teats into a bucket.
I am told the milk is not only drunk by the children, but it is made into butter and cheese and yogurt and many other kinds of food. One day a big bull will find me, and I will give birth to a calf. And when I die, my name is changed from cow to beef, and I provide steak, and roast beef, and cutlets for humans to enjoy. So I am content with the life God has given me. That reminds me, I forgot to mention that they now put my milk into cans with a label saying CARNATION MILK FROM CONTENTED COWS. "
In spite of living in constant danger Paul wrote "There is great gain in godliness combined with contentment" (1 Timothy 6:6). But obviously this contentment did not come easily, which is why he said "I have learned to be content with whatever I have" (Philippians 4:11). I suspect there was a slow learning process.
Since I was flattened by a stroke in May I have lost much - I can't drive any more, I eat pureed food, I drink through a G Tube in my stomach, and I can't walk much beyond the grocery store. When I was first hit by the stroke I prayed for protection and healing. Then when I realized things were going to take much longer than I expected, I prayed for patience. Now I ask the Holy Spirit to give me contentment, and I am grateful when I see little signs of progress.
Christian contentment is not fatalism ("I just have to put up with things as they are"). It is an active attitude of joy and thanksgiving. Two years ago my wife Mollie died suddenly after fifty happy years together.In India for eleven years, where our four children were born, and since we came to Canada forty years ago, she had to face many tough situations. But I can’t remember a time when she was ever complaining and grouchy. What I miss most is her astonishing contentment.
If contented people are those we enjoy in our family, in our work, as neighbors, it is not surprising that God enjoys having contented children.