The lost art of contentment
A Rempstone Sister
It is hard sometimes to be at peace in our faith, glad to be who and where we are, and sure of who God is, and of his love for us. It is hard especially in the world that mocks the old certainties on which we base our lives. Niggling fears creep into our prayers and reflection; just suppose it is all illusion.
Immediately nip temptation in the bud and remember past blessings and assurances. Claim with St Paul to know whom we have believed, and be assured he will keep all that we have committed to him, and he to us, securely, until the last day. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, made known to us in Christ. Return to the moment of your first consciously remembered ‘Yes’ to God and reclaim it, knowing that nothing has, can or will change in our relationship with him, who is eternal Love. Even sin is no ultimate barrier if we go behind it, to the place of our first tryst with Our Lord, in genuine repentance and resolving to change things for the better. He is there with welcoming arms.
We can start again with the same confidence and trust of those early days, with the intervening years of experience to enlighten us. Old hymns and prayers, long out of use, can be taken up again in our personal devotion. They will move us more deeply now, as we discover new levels of meaning unknown before. The thoughts and sentiments of their composers are grasped more readily since our experience of life allows us to be more in tune. Anna Laetitia Waring (1820–1910) simply expresses this quiet confidence in God and his providence that we hark back to:
Father I know that all my life
Is portioned out for me,
And the changes that are sure to come
I do not fear to see,
But I ask Thee for a present mind,
Intent on pleasing Thee.
We can call God our Father unashamedly, since this is how he has always been. When younger we learned he had a plan for our lives and every happening would be part of it. Like Anna, in moments of fervour, we gave God everything, and fearlessly accepted in anticipation the consequences. Now, looking back, we need to repent for our lack of trust at times, our real doubts and fears in all the changing scenes of life. Anna continues:
I ask Thee for a thoughtful love,
Through constant watching wise
To greet the glad with joyful smiles
And to wipe the weeping eyes,
And a heart at leisure from itself
To soothe and sympathize.
Love is the greatest commandment, but not any kind of love. Even love can be imprudent and selfishly motivated. Anna requests Christ-like love, and ‘thoughtful’ love, a wise and prudent love gained through prayerful observation, a love that is all things to others, forgetful of self, ‘rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with the weeping.’ This costly way of living Jesus showed us. We fail often, as we journey through life. How can we achieve it? Anna reminds us: ‘self-forgetfulness again, A heart at leisure from itself’ – putting resentment, self-pity, grumbling and discontent aside, so as to be ready to console others in their distress.