Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
As I mentioned in my last post, and probably elsewhere on this blog (apparently I have to level up to add a search engine, so it would appear I am no better equipped than you to search my own blog! If I repeat myself sometimes, I'm really very sorry; it probably didn't show up on my Google search!) Psalm 37: 3-4 has been a very important part of the Bible to me.
How to 'dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness'--in other words, be content, right where you are? To praise Him in the hallway, while you wait to see what doors open?
It is important for the Christian to cultivate joy and thankfulness--the two really come together, and are very much more related than today's marketing media likes to think--in a world where there is so much to be sad about; but also because we worship a God of which there is so much to be joyful and thankful for. I would say, from my own experience, that it is important to your spiritual growth--one of the biggest spiritual steps in my own journey, which transformed how I related to God and how I related Him to my life, was learning to connect Him to joy, and thankfulness. (Steve DeWitt's Eyes Wide Open and Greg Gilbert's What is the Gospel. I know I've written on both books before here; and more importantly, Google assures me it is so, so I'm able to provide the links above.)
And I've also realized gradually that in order to be thankful, and happy, you sometimes have to be very purposeful about it. We like to think that happiness and thankfulness are effortless emotions that spring naturally to our hearts when we're in some beautiful situation--facing a glorious sunset on a beach during a holiday without a care in the world, when your loved ones throw you a surprise party and shower you with affection and gifts. God does a miracle in your life or gives you the great desire of your heart. Of course, you'd be thankful. Of course, you'd be joyful. How could you not, in those circumstances?
It is that effortless--sometimes. The problem is that if we expect those moments to be the only times we experience those emotions, we're not going to have very much of either emotion in our lives. That nice fuzzy feeling hits you for one beautific moment and then fades rapidly as we get used to it, and very soon vanishes completely; you barely remember it when something bad happens.
People let you down. People are difficult and hard to love, as much as they want and need to be loved. Life isn't a series of #blessed moments.
And in fact if we expect to only feel thankfulness and joy towards God when we have such experiences in our lives, we've got a lot of spiritual maturity to grow into, and we have only a superficial understanding of Who He is and what He can do.
I've been working out my own interpretation of what Psalm 37:3-4 means over the years, as I nurture hopes and dreams and experience disappointment and disillusion.
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. To me, that has been a call to cultivate contentment for my current situation, and likewise faith for the future based on the knowledge of God's faithfulness proven in the past.
Cultivating contentment in turn has sometimes meant making myself set aside my prejudice and emotions to acknowledge things I didn't care to acknowledge. Consciously appreciating the good in people even as I see their weaknesses. Learning to better understand myself and fathom how accurate, how worthy, are those 'desires of my heart'. At any rate, so far it has always cost me effort in the beginning, showing me that contentment at its most poignant is a frame of mind rather than a passive emotion; because Christian contentment--which focuses on God--is based on the objective truth of His attributes.
Contentment is the opposite of self-entitlement, after all, and it always costs us effort to let go of our intrinsically self-centered perspective and feelings.
The wonderful thing is that it isn't all, paradoxically, effort. Because--as mentioned earlier--happiness, which is very much an emotion, stems from contentment. When we learn to let go of our self-entitlement, when we admit that goodness is not deserved but given, when we recognize God's gifts, our eyes are immediately opened to enjoy and appreciate and use our life better than we did before--right where we are, with exactly what we have. Which is a very real kind of happiness. To be reminded of His faithfulness, and to see how we depend on it, are living on it--'feeding' on it--every day, all the time.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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