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Find contentment in 2023

Rick Koole, Ed.D.

Life Pointe Church

The most sobering place I ever visited was the Auschwitz concentration camp. The sense of evil was almost overwhelming. And, it was so cold that I was freezing despite my hat, heavy coat and gloves. I couldn’t help but imagine how the imprisoned Jews must have suffered without any of those.

In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Victor Frankl shared his first-hand death camp observations and documented the amazing coping powers of humans to retain inner freedom. He wrote: “We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last pieces of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Leadership guru John Maxwell likewise reminded us that “it’s your attitude…not your achievements…that will give you happiness and contentment.” While Charles Swindoll famously summed it up when he wrote, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond.”

As we start another new year, take a moment to consider how content you are.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote of his many sufferings, but after reflecting on all that had happened to him wrote, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Elsewhere he wrote that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

When the novelist, Dr. A.J. Cronin, was a practicing physician in a small Welsh mining community, he worked with a remarkable nurse. For more than 20 years, Olive Davies had served the people with competence, patience and cheerfulness. Her friend, the doctor, resented the inadequate salary with which her selfless work was rewarded, yet he was moved to see it differently after the following encounter with the nurse.

He wrote, “Late one night after a particularly strenuous case, I ventured to protest to her as we drank a cup of tea together. ‘Nurse,’ I said. ‘Why don’t you make them pay you more? It’s ridiculous that you should work for so little.’ She raised her eyebrows slightly and smiled, ‘I have enough to get along.’ ‘No really,’ I protested. ‘You ought to have an extra pound a week at least. God knows you’re worth it.’ There was a pause. Her smile remained, but her gaze had an intensity that startled me. ‘Doctor,’ she said. “If God knows I’m worth it, that’s all that matters.”

Harold Kushner in his book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” said he believes the pursuit of happiness is the wrong goal. You don’t become happy by pursuing happiness. You become happy by living a life that means something. He emphasized that contentment comes to those who have a driving purpose in life.

Kushner viewed happiness as a by-product but never as the primary goal. He believed happiness is like a butterfly. Chase it, and it will fly away from you and hide. Instead, stop chasing the butterfly and get busy doing productive, useful things, and happiness “will sneak up on you from behind and perch on your shoulder.”


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