“Now godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)
Lovely Sanibel Island—old Florida style, sparkling beaches, a shell-collector’s paradise—is ravaged. Almost unrecognizable.
As Hurricane Ian plowed through the Fort Myers area on Sept. 28, 2022, it pounded Sanibel with 150-mile-per-hour winds. Lives, homes, businesses, and the connecting causeway were swept away. Foliage, once lush green, is now stained a dead brown from the deluge of salt water and winds.*
These sudden, dramatic losses are bewildering to those who enjoyed its charming community. How do you start over when everything you loved is gone?
One Sanibel landmark symbolically remains standing—the historic lighthouse, built in 1884. Damaged but still vertical, the metal tower survives while all the old buildings around it are completely wiped away. Its presence offers hope that Sanibel will be blessed with its life-saving light after restoration.
There is another presence, however, that offers the best hope and guiding light for those struggling in the hurricane aftermath—Jesus Christ. His Spirit resides in the hearts of believers at Sanibel Community Church, a place where our family has worshipped during our past visits to the island.
Anne Graham Lotz posted this letter from the senior pastor, Jeramie Rinne: https://www.annegrahamlotz.org/2022/10/07/when-storms-strike/ It speaks volumes about the faith of these church members and their trust in the One who will get them through the months and years of recovery. Rinne’s words describe contentment in the midst of pain, confusion, and upheaval…of resting in His sovereignty.**
Who is in control of everything in times of calamity? It’s not us. God is completely sovereign over our world, our lives, our experiences, our sorrows and griefs, our joys and triumphs. Nothing happens to us by accident but purely by His plan for us. Easy to say…hard to accept.
Missionary trainer Ann Austin speaks to women’s groups on the secrets and blessings of Christian contentment.
“God is good, and He does good things,” Austin asserts. “His eternal perspective is different from our ‘good’—He has His own definition. We live in a fallen world with a good God. He works all things together for our good.”
When we are assaulted with problems, our tendency is to ask God “why??” But would we be satisfied if we knew the whys? Probably not. We have to walk in trust.
We can tether our storm-tossed boat to two anchors: God’s sovereignty and His goodness. God’s comfort can be real, like a rock, in spite of our pain. We need to reach out and grasp His goodness, praying to Him that He will not let us fall into a pit of depression. Austin knows this well because her first husband died young, unexpectedly from a heart attack.
“We need to base our faith and daily spiritual walk on God and His attributes, not on our current circumstances,” she said. “If we are tied to our changing circumstances, we’ll be on a constant rollercoaster of emotions.
“But God does not change. Whether we are walking through a sunlit glade or walking through a raging fire, our walk will be steady if our minds and hearts (this is the struggle of personal discipline) are fixed on who God is and what He has already done for us. He has kept us thus far, and He will carry me through the future only He can see, especially in the small things.”
What exactly does Christian contentment look like? It is beautiful. It sweetens the spirit of the young and lends dignity to the old. It reflects a correct relationship between the creature and the Creator. It is an inward form of worship to God.
In contrast, discontent is ugly. Discontent reflects a lack of gratitude and a distrust of God. It is accompanied by complaining and grumbling. It is dangerous to our spiritual well-being.
Ultimately, cultivating contentment brings the healing power of God into our lives. It makes us hopeful. God is making us more like Christ, who humbled Himself to the point of death. Through abundance and want, we are learning to be more Christ-like.
And that, dear friends, is what helps us get through the hurricanes of life. My prayer this week is that you will draw near to Jesus, appealing to Him to help you become more content with His plans for you. May He give you a supernatural peace this week to endure your own storms.
I lift up my praise to You, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. You make me content in all my tribulation, that I may likewise be able to comfort those who are in any trouble. Give me the same grace to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep. Father, as I come before You now, let me be as a child in Your lap, comforted by Your loving arms, sheltered beneath Your banner of love over me. Let me rest in You, without agenda, without demands, without complaining…satisfied by Your grace. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
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© Copyright 2022 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative (text and photography)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
*To get a sense of the scale of destruction, here’s a recent news report from Fox Weather:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPhoZwdaUL0
**And read Pastor Jeramie’s latest notes (“Out of the Mud”) on the church’s website—you can donate online to their hurricane relief efforts at this site, too: https://sanibelchurch.com