I am theologically reformed and, as you might expect, a fan of most reformed confessions (my favorite being the Westminster Confession of Faith). I love them. While not infallible, they do a fantastic job at summing up the reformed tradition and what theology should belong to a follower of Christ.
But lately, I find myself less interested in them and more interested in general day-to-day piety. I find myself pondering less classroom theology and more household theology. I’m less attentive towards fine tuning a precise eschatological position and more concerned with understanding what it means to lay down my life for my wife and family. On top of this, I feel a heavy gravitational pull away from debating The Reformed Principle of Worship and towards helping my kids understand the sweet simple truth that Jesus delights over them.
Its probably worth saying that this is not a statement about the importance of historical church documents, like those referenced above. Confessions and eschatological positions are extremely important and should be studied! But, rather commentary on where I am today and where my thoughts and prayers have been centered lately. I believe those doctrines and truths that I have spent years pondering aid me as I pursue to be more Christ-like in my life. Because of this refocus I find myself longing for true godly contentment. One puritan referred to contentment as a “rare jewel”. He’s right. It’s rare, precious and I need it in my life. My home needs it. My burdens need it. But how do you learn to be content?
A paradox that I find extraordinary is that you will find true godly contentment not by removing the burdens that weigh on you, but by adding to them.
This certainly sounds strange considering the many burdens that plague our world today (I’m sure you and I could both write out an impressive list). Oh, the weight of these burdens! Yet, if you want your burdens to feel light, then you must examine your heart closely and add to the top of your list the burden of your sin. How tiny our afflictions become when compared with the afflictions our sins brought upon Christ! Paul refers to them as “light and momentary troubles” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Consider these words from Jeremiah Burroughs in his book on Christian Contentment:
“If a man’s estate is broken, either by plunderers, or any other way; how shall this man have contentment? How? By the breaking of his heart. God has broken your estate; Oh seek to him for the breaking of your heart likewise. Indeed, a broken estate and a whole heart, a hard heart, will not join together; there will be no contentment. But a broken estate and a broken heart will so suit one another, as that there will be more contentment than there was before.” (The Rare Christian Jewel of Contentment, p. 27-28).
By adding the heavy burden of sin to our list of troubles, we find the perspective we were lacking before. We also find that our suffering is not meaningless. Its creating something in you; it’s working. It’s preparing you for the day when you’re ready to receive perfection you long for in Christ. Your many daily burdens have a purpose and without adding the burden of sin to your list, you may miss that. You will certainly miss one of the sweetest gifts of the Christian faith, contentment.
“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:3-6, ESV).