Be content with such things as you have


Heb. 13: 7–16

In these grey November days I often find myself in a somber mood and troubled thoughts. There was a time when mornings dawned bright and cheerful, full of curiosity and joyful expectation but these days, I feel as though I am waking up more tired than when I had gone to sleep the previous night. Everything seems to be going wrong.

I talk to other people who have more or less the same experience. We all seem unhappy, there are lots of things missing from our lives and bothering us. We all claim that nothing is as it used to be, the flowers do not seem to smell any more and fruit has lost its taste. We ask ourselves, “Why is it that things seemed better before?” We complain a lot and then go our separate ways, each one of us continuing in the same way and going around in circles.

Then, suddenly, a real misfortune in someone’s life takes me to one of the city hospitals, where terrible human dramas occur. It is then that I come to my senses and reproach myself for my faint heartedness and ingratitude. For a while after the hospital visit I see things around me in a different light.

And so, I would heartily recommend everyone to pay a visit to one of these hospitals to witness that desperate fight for one’s bare life, especially those who cannot find peace, whose energy is being drained away and whose life seems to have lost its purpose. I am sure that, once you come out of the hospital, you will thank God for all the good things He gives you every day and for the gift of health.

When I think about everything and when I am ready to admit this to myself, I see that things have always been the same. It is we who change. Both happiness and unhappiness are in us – they are just a matter of choice for us. I understand that our problem is mainly in that we are very rarely able to achieve a balance in our lives and that it is even more difficult for us to evaluate things in the right way. Some people disagree with me that happiness is a matter of choice and that most of us live with our noses to the grindstone every day. We are like the horse that turns the waterwheel walking in circles all day long, day after day. Most of us are in a similar yoke, slaving away to exhaustion. People rush to work before daybreak and, exhausted, they make their way home after dark. They have set their goals in life: accomplish this, buy that, pay off the debts, and so forth. When they have accomplished everything, they will have a life of peace and enjoyment. However, each new day has its own demands and needs and the end is nowhere in sight.

This is why it is important to keep a little bit of our personal freedom for ourselves and to find the right measure in everything we do. I believe that anyone who will not accept Mammon as his god and who will not give him his soul, can remain free and feel the joy of living throughout  his life. It is important for each one of us to set our priorities in life: what is really important and what is less important, what we can do without and what we cannot. It’s about finding the ‘golden middle.’ Preserve me, O Lord, from extreme poverty, that I may not fall into temptation, but also do not give me excessive wealth, that I may not taste power and lose my soul. The wise Solomon prays to God with similar words: “Remove far from me vanity and lies, give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with food convenient for me; lest I be full and deny Thee, and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Prov. 30:8-9).

“Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith” (Prov. 15:16-17). “Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than a house full of sacrifices with strife,” says the wise Solomon (Prov. 17:1). Everyone will immediately agree with this and say that it is very obvious, yet we will all go on doing as we had before. But let us hear what St. Paul says on this matter: “Now godliness and contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:6-10). In giving us this advice, St. Paul begins with himself, for he has learned to be content with what he has. “I know how to be abased and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13).

What really stands behind our worries and uncertainties is our weak faith and our pitiful human attempts to solve all our problems by ourselves. Apostle Paul turns our attention to God when he says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5-6). The Lord has told us many times not to worry about what we should eat or wear, for He knows that we need all this. He tells us to look at the birds of the air, that neither sow nor reap, yet the Father who is in Heaven feeds them every day. Or to consider the lilies growing in the field, neither toiling nor spinning, yet not even  Solomon, in all his glory, was arrayed like one of them. “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, o little of faith?” (Mt. 6:25-33).

May the Lord help us to find peace and balance and to find the pearl of great price within ourselves, that we may spend our earthly lives in peace and contentment and that we may feel the Heavenly Kingdom even in this life.