(Excerpted from the book, ‘The Consistent Christian’ by William Secker)
A contented heart is an even sea in the midst of all storms. It is like a tree in autumn, which secures its life — when it has lost its leaves. When worthy Mr. Hern lay upon his deathbed, his wife, with great concern, asked him what was to become of her and her large family? he answered, “Peace, sweetheart. That God who feeds the ravens, will not starve the Herns.” If the child questions his father’s affection — he will soon be dubious of his father’s provision.
Our most golden conditions in this life are set in bronze frames. There is no gathering a rose without a thorn — until we come to Immanuel’s land. If there were nothing but showers — we would conclude the world would be drowned. If there were nothing but sunshine — we would fear the earth would be burned. Our worldly comforts would be a sea to drown us — if our crosses were not a plank to save us! By the fairest gales — a sinner may sail to destruction! By the fiercest storms — a saint may sail to glory! When our circumstances become necessitous, our corruptions become impetuous; they rage the more, because stopped by the dam of poverty. If God withholds the Hand of providence, we employ the tongue of insolence. We too frequently bite at the stone — until we break our teeth! We murmur because we are in want — and therefore want because we murmur.
Contentment is the best food to preserve a sound man — and the best medicine to restore a sick man. It resembles the gilt on bitter pills, which makes a man take them — without tasting their bitterness. Contentment will make a cottage look as fair as a palace. He is not a poor man who has but little — but he is a poor man who desires much. In this sense, the poorest are often the richest, and the richest the poorest.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” This is too precious a flower to grow in every soil. Though every godly man may not always be contented — yet every truly contented man is godly. “The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.” Such a Scripture will bring us plenty in scarcity; and fullness out of emptiness. The water in a cloud soon ceases — but the water of a fountain continues.
As Seneca said to Polybius, “Never complain of your hard condition, so long as Caesar is your friend.” So say I to you, “Never complain of your hard condition, Christian, so long as Jesus is your Friend!”
Let your condition be ever so flourishing — it is a Hell without Him. Let your condition be ever so fluctuating — it is a Heaven with Him. Can that man lack anything — who enjoys Christ; or can he be said to enjoy anything — who is without Christ? Why should Hagar lament the loss of the water in her bottle — while there is a well so near?