The life experience I described in my meditation was many years ago, but I learned from it. Since then, as a lay speaker I have preached quite a few times on this topic of happiness and contentment, and I often refer to the Apostle Paul as “the great psychologist.” In his letters, Paul describes all the suffering he has endured (including a “thorn in his flesh” that God will not remove), and yet he is still content. By writing “I have learned the secret to being content,” he has learned how to frame his suffering and hardships in the light of all eternity.
One of my ministries has been visitations with the elderly in a couple of assisted living facilities. One thing I have noticed in particular about folks there is that, in general, those who come in with an attitude of acceptance seem to do much better. Most are understandably not ecstatic about losing their homes and independence. However, when they are able to embrace the positives in their situation, such as engaging in the various activities (especially ones like worship and Bible study!), enjoying the social interaction they have with one another, and recognizing the fewer worries they have due to being taken care of, they typically seem to thrive in their new environment. Others who are not able to see past the changes in their lives seem to have a much more difficult time. So when meeting with them (and in my sermons), I remind them of Paul, the great psychologist, and the importance of framing their circumstances by focusing on their blessings and seeing things in light of all eternity.
Every now and then in my life, when I begin to feel sorry for myself, I try and step above my circumstances and frame things in this light and count my blessings.
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