Steps to Contentment

  1. Allow thyself to complain of nothing, not even of the weather.
  2. Never picture thyself under any circumstances in which thou art not.
  3. Never compare thine own lot with that of another.
  4. Never allow thyself to dwell on the wish that this or that had been, or were, otherwise than it was, or is. God Almighty loves thee better and more wisely than thou dost thyself.
  5. Never dwell on the morrow. Remember that it is God’s, not thine. The heaviest part of sorrow often is to look forward to it. “The Lord will provide.”

—Published in G. F. Maine’s A Book of Daily Readings

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Delivered From All My Fears

Jeannie found herself staring at the digital numbers on her alarm clock once again. The luminous red lines forming the numbers which indicated it was three in the morning looked all too familiar. It seemed that her fears had no respect for her need for sleep, or the fact that in a few short hours she would be needing to face another stressful day at work.

“Why can’t I shake this feeling?” Jeannie sighed, as she tried settling herself into a different position for the seemingly hundredth time that night. But try as she might to stop them, the same thoughts paraded themselves repeatedly through her still wide-awake mind.

Jeannie had recently turned 35. Her life wasn’t what she’d anticipated it would be at this point in her life. She’d recently experienced the shattered dreams of a relationship she’d thought was finally “the one”. She felt close to her family, but they all lived several hours away. In spite of having many friends and finding herself busily involved in one social event after another throughout her twenties, all but one of those friends had married and were now busy raising families. Her job kept her busy but wasn’t all that interesting or challenging. Last, but certainly not least, the church she was attending just didn’t seem to have a clue about what her life was like as a single person.

But far worse than all these factors in her life was the fear that seemed to be gripping her lately. She just couldn’t seem to shake it. It was a fear that this alone feeling would only get worse; after all, she’d never expected it to last this long.

Jeannie is a fictional character, but she certainly isn’t unusual, even though she feels like no one else in all the world is experiencing life like she is. In all reality, many are gripped with similar circumstances and with a similar fear. Their circumstances may be a bit different: perhaps they are divorced or widowed; they may be raising children alone, or feeling burdened with paying child support as a result of a divorce they’d never chosen. They may be older, or younger. They may be male instead of female. Their fears may be a little different, but they revolve around the fact that they are alone. Many different fears can grip those who face life without a partner:

  • fear of physical harm and danger
  • fear of commitment in any kind of relationship, or to a church, because of an underlying fear of being hurt, misunderstood, and rejected
  • fear of lack of finances or job stability
  • fear of handling the responsibilities for a home, job, children, aging parents, and so on without someone to help bear the burden
  • fear of making decisions without input and support from someone else

Many, many singles learn to face these fears with the Lord’s help, and to successfully handle life alone. On the other side of these fears they become strong, confident and vivacious people, having much to contribute to the lives of those around them. I know numerous such individuals who are a constant blessing and inspiration to everyone who knows them. But the process of getting there can be terrifying for many, and may cause many sleepless nights as Jeannie experienced.

Most of these fears stem from the fact that most people don’t expect to face life alone. Sometimes it is a gradual realization (friends marry one by one), or a sudden one (a spouse dies or leaves, or a friendship changes or ends). As it becomes more and more evident that, for at least a period of unknown time, life will not be as had been anticipated, one needs to adjust his or her approach for living it. Each person will work this out a bit differently based on their personality, preferences and circumstances. Some will learn to live alone and enjoy it, others will find a housemate or two. Some will settle into a group of friends who become like family, others will get more involved in their churches, or in their extended families.

But, you may be asking, at the moment when I find myself gripped with fear, what do I do? Moving beyond fear is not easy, but it is possible; furthermore, it is necessary in order to live the purposeful, productive, and abundant lives God has intended for us. There are several steps to take:

First, define the actual fear. Is what you are fearing something which is still many years down the road, such as growing old alone? Is it something which is highly unlikely, such as being homeless or jobless or deathly ill and no one caring at all? Is it something seemingly insignificant but at the same time terrifying, like not having someone to be with on a weekend night, or finding a mouse in your house, or being alone in a thunderstorm in the middle of the night?

Some fears are over events that may not happen for many years. Realize that many things could change in the meantime, including your perspective of them, the people who may be in your life that aren’t now, and so on. Many people mistakenly think that having children will guarantee they’ll never be alone in their old age, but that is not necessarily the case. The only guarantee and security anyone has for the future is the Lord, and when we have a relationship with Him, we can rest in His assurance that He will never leave us nor forsake us. The Bible reminds us to not covet the “security” someone else may have, but to rely solely on Him and His promises: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Heb. 13:5).

The fears of events which will occur today or in the near future also need to be put into perspective. Not having someone to be with on a Saturday night may not be your first preference, but it gives the opportunity to learn to enjoy certain activities you wouldn’t otherwise: a cozy evening with a good book and a hot cup of tea; a drive in the country with the windows rolled down, talking with the Lord all the while; or tackling a new project or hobby.

Secondly, look the fear straight in the face. What is the worst thing that could happen if your fear came true? If it does happen, what is a course of action you could take? Who could you turn to if you were truly desperate? Is your relationship with the Lord strong enough that you can turn to Him in times of need?

Having a plan in case the worst of your fears comes true helps to dissipate the fear itself, as does defining those people in your life who truly do care about you, even though you may be currently out of touch with them. Sometimes these kinds of fears can motivate people to reconnect with family members or with an old friend. They may also be motivators to establish new friendships and to become involved in other people’s lives. Fears often help people to realize that their relationship with the Lord is lacking, and that they don’t know how to turn to Him in a crisis. If you find that this is the case for yourself, start right now by picking up your Bible and learning how to talk with your Heavenly Father about anything and everything. This, too, is a process, but a much-needed one.

Another way to look fear in the face is to tell someone else about it — preferably someone who will also continue to pray for you and with you until that fear is conquered.

Third, recognize other factors which may be contributing to your fears. If you find that fear grips you most strongly at night, remember this: Don’t listen to your fears in the middle of the night! This is the time of day when life’s problems seem bigger and scarier than they actually are. Realizing that you are most likely perceiving them out of proportion to reality may help you to lay them aside for the night while you get some sleep. Be in tune with other things which may be causing fears to run rampant. For ladies this may very well be caused by their monthly cycles. Other contributing factors can be the weather, the season of the year, and simply being hungry, tired, stressed, etc. A good night’s sleep, regular exercise, and eating nutritiously can contribute much to our general sense of well-being.

Finally, know what God’s Word says about fear. Knowing the Lord and His Word is the number one ammunition against fear. If we have a relationship with the God of the universe through His Son, Jesus Christ, we are truly never alone nor without aid. Reading, memorizing, and meditating on Scripture passages will give you an anchor to turn to when you find yourself in fear’s grip. Start with such passages as Psalm 23, 34, 91, and Romans 8. Eventually you will be able to say with the Psalmist, “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psa. 34:4).

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Does My Life Really Matter?

By Fern Horst

It’s just so awful! I can’t believe she’s dead! And she had a husband and four small children left without her. Why couldn’t it have been someone without a family?”

We often hear such sentiments expressed after young husbands or wives are killed in an accident, or an illness or disease shortens their lives. It seems obvious that such individuals’ lives had purpose, and that their deaths leave a void in other peoples’ lives.

Many singles wonder what they’re alive for if they aren’t going to have the responsibilities of a spouse and children. It’s a horrible feeling — that sense deep down that if you weren’t here it wouldn’t make much of a difference, and that perhaps it may even be better for some people if you weren’t around.

But that feeling is a lie. Even if someone has told you that, or several people have, or it was implied by an unthoughtful comment, it’s still a lie. Because the One who created you, who gave you life, and continues to sustain that life, has a completely different perspective. Not one of us could be here without Him, nor continue to have life without Him. As long as He gives us life, He has a purpose for our lives. It is a very limited perspective which says that only those who are married, or who have children, or have whatever else we may think makes people important, are significant and have purpose.

If you doubt that you are significant and have a purpose for being here, or the fact that the Lord of the Universe loves you and wants you, take a second look at this story, and what He did for you.

In the beginning

In the very beginning everything was perfect. God made a man and a woman in His image and without sin. They didn’t think any negative thoughts towards each other, or say unkind words, or have any capacity to hurt each other. Their world was perfect. (How much do we as singles long for such perfection in relationships!) Adam and Eve lived in a beautiful garden where there were no weeds or death of any kind. Everything grew in abundance without their needing to work for it. Since God created them to live forever, their bodies were perfect; they never got sick and their bodies showed no signs of aging. Perhaps most wonderful of all, they had a close relationship with God and were able to speak with Him. There was nothing to cause them to doubt Him or His love for them. Their world was complete: they had God, and they had each other — a scenario most humans long for but don’t have.

Sin enters the picture

But unfortunately this perfect picture did not last long. Satan soon tempted Eve and Adam to eat the one fruit in the garden God had told them not to. As soon as they did, the perfectness of their relationship with God and with each other was destroyed. They started blaming each other rather than realizing their own wrong-doing. The beginning of difficulty between the sexes had begun. Their entire wonderful world was shattered and death became a reality. No longer would they or the plants and animals live forever on earth.

The gap

Immediately Adam and Eve desperately tried to make things right again. They suddenly realized they were naked and tried to clothe themselves. They felt terribly guilty and tried to hide from God in order to escape His displeasure with them. Today, people are still desperately trying to fill that gap between themselves and God. Because God created us to be in a relationship with Him, a big void remains when we aren’t. Some people try to fill that emptiness with doing good things — going to church, helping the homeless, having good morals, and trying to live a good life. Other people try to cover up the emptiness by looking for a relationship, having sex, or binging on food, alcohol, drugs — anything that will help to distract them from the emptiness.

God provides a Bridge

The only way to fill that void in our hearts, and to bridge the gap between ourselves and God, is to accept the “Bridge” God provided for us to reach Him. That Bridge is Jesus Christ, His death on a cross, and His resurrection from the dead. When Jesus died on the cross, He died to pay for our sins. In doing so, He made a way so that if we accept what He did as payment for our sins, then we can have a relationship with God. When Jesus rose from the dead, He conquered the finality of death, so that if we accept Him as our Lord, we will also someday conquer death and pass over into heaven and live with Him for eternity. Whether or not we ever get all that we wish for here — a spouse and children, personal fulfillment, a prestigious job — we can now have what is most important for eternity.

Proof of God’s love

If you’ve ever wondered whether or not someone loves you or wants you, or whether your life is really important, remind yourself of this story. Jesus actually died for you, going through terrible emotional and physical suffering, so that you can have a relationship with God, and so that you won’t suffer throughout eternity after we die. Because He has a purpose for every person, He did this for everyone, not just a select few.

If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Saviour, nor known the great love and purpose He has for you, please don’t live another moment with that emptiness that only He can fill.

How to make this choice for yourself

First, acknowledge to God that you have sinned and ask His forgiveness.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Second, believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins on the cross and rose from the dead in order to save you from the separation from God that your sin has created.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Then, by prayer invite Jesus Christ into your life as your Lord and Saviour, to control your life through His Holy Spirit. If you’ve already done this, but realize you are not allowing Him to be Lord of your life, repent of your unwillingness to follow Him at all costs, and resubmit your heart to Him.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)

God’s purpose for your life

Whether you’ve just accepted Christ as your Saviour, or did so years ago, God has a special purpose for your life. This purpose isn’t dependent on your marital status, or whether you have children, or whether you have a prestigious job or position, or whether anyone else recognizes that you have value.

The number one purpose we have, and which supersedes and encompasses every other purpose God gives us, is to bring Him glory. We bring Him glory by living a life which is pleasing to Him, and we know what is pleasing to Him by reading and knowing His Word, the Bible. This can be anything from helping someone (“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of ChristGalatians 6:2), to fulfilling the command Jesus gave to us before He went back to heaven to prepare a place for us there: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:18-20).

This purpose as Christians to bring God glory can take many different forms, and our own personalities, interests, abilities, opportunities, situations, and so on all factor into how we fulfill this purpose. But the important thing is that we make this our number one purpose in life, and that all our decisions and thoughts and actions and words and attitudes revolve around this purpose to which He has called us:

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Ephesians 1:11-12)Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31)

If you’re still tempted to think that no one wants you, or that your life doesn’t have purpose, or that it doesn’t matter that you exist, think through these things again. Remember, Jesus loves you so much that He died a tortuous and agonizing death for you. Your Heavenly Father loves you so much that He planned this way for you to have a personal relationship with Him, by sending His own Son, Jesus, to die. Now that you have accepted this wonderful act of love for you, He has given you an important mission: to use your unique combination of personality and abilities and so on (which no one else has but you) to bring glory to the God who created you and loves you deeply.

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Undivided Devotion

By Wayne Mytas

So I’m standing in the grocery store line waiting my turn at the cash register. You know, the place where you’re supposed to be tempted to buy National Enquirer, candy bars, gum, whatever. The place where, by design, retailers put you in a place to impulse buy something you absolutely can’t live without. (Could we survive a day without breath mints if they weren’t staring at us the moment before we bought them?)

Anyway, I soon realize I’m standing in line where either by design or a joke, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue was on the top rack. Looking at me. You know, like the seductress in Proverbs, laying in wait to ruin you. To be honest, the feeling was not so much being tempted to look or buy as of feeling violated by something invading my space, trying to tear me down.

Waiting and watching eggs and ham and toastems and pizza pass through the scanner with its accompanying beeps, I felt that I’d had enough. Grabbing the magazine from the rack and turning it around so I wouldn’t have to be in the presence of its cover, I almost dropped it as I saw the back was (if you can believe it) more seductive and revealing than the front.

Pushing my cart ahead, the cashier must have caught on to my frustration and embarrassment, judging by the look I received from her.

Trying to laugh it off as I carried my bags into my house, suddenly something inside me broke. Throwing my coat across the room, I exclaimed through watery eyes, “This is a bad joke! Do you know what it’s like to live celibate in a sexually charged world? Do you know what it’s like to come home to an empty house every night, watching years pass me by without a mate? No one to come home to; no one to talk to? I’m tired of this. I’m tired of the loneliness and frustration and feeling out of place in a couple’s world. I’m tired of watching Dads pick up their children and laugh and be affectionate with them. I am sick and tired of being alone! Sick of it!”

After a time of silence I started to imagine what Jesus may say to me if He were here. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment. I’ve heard your struggles through your words, but not through your tears. I’ve felt that you’ve been keeping me at arms length by not showing me your passion, your rage, your intense hurt, the loneliness you’ve been denying. I’ve longed for the time you would let down your guard and truly show me your heart. I feel that we’ve finally really connected. I’ve always known how you felt, but was saddened that you didn’t trust me enough to really give it to me. Thank you for finally being honest with me, and giving me the privilege of having your trust.”

In the moments that followed, I had to wonder if I would have had this moment with God if I were married. Would I have tried to get all my intimacy needs met through my mate, rather than my Savior? I wonder if part of the purpose for our singleness is to put us in a place where the only option for intimacy is with God. He wants us. He doesn’t want other things competing for our attention. Intimacy with Him is not to be displaced by earthly passions. He’s positioned us to seek after Him undistracted by an earthly family, wholly devoted to Him.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said;

Alone you stood before God when He called you; and alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called.

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Life Together

You never know; tomorrow you may meet Mr. or Miss right, and so may I. In the mean time let’s not pass up the opportunity to get really close to the one who loves us the most.

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