It was William Shakespeare who first wrote these words in the first two lines of Richard III;
“Now is the winter of our discontent…”
Author John Steinbeck’s published a book in 1961 and uses the words for the title of his last book “The Winter of Our Discontent.” Not that I have read either of these books, the words seem to capture what I have been feeling since January of 2020.
Discontent is when you feel a lack of contentment or dissatisfaction with one’s circumstances. I would have to say discontentment has been the dark cloud hanging over my head this year and I do not think I am alone.
With the impeachment trial beginning in January followed by the arrival of Covid-19 in the Spring, the months of political mudslinging, the fury over the Black Lives Matter movement, rioting, looting, and some focus on police brutality, and the chaos of the election and the ridiculous number of lawsuits brought by a legal team looking like the 3 Stooges times 2…
I think feeling discontent is responding to this year fairly well.
However, I do believe there is some light at the end of the tunnel although who knows how much longer this tunnel is. Today I would like to suggest to all of us a way to have this winter of our discontent end well and go through the remaining 37 days of 2020 and end on a high note.
Let’s learn a little from Paul and David. Paul writes to the Philippians 4:11-13
“…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Paul teaches us that it is not the ups and downs of life that should be determining whether or not we feel content. He had prosperity and poverty. He was frequently beaten and thrown in jail…and yet he remained content because the storms surrounding him could not unsettle the strength and security he drew from the One who strengthened him.
David also gives us insight into having a life of contentment. He writes in Psalm 121;
“I will raise my eyes to the mountains;
From where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who watches over you will not slumber.
Behold, He who watches over Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your protector;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not beat down on you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time and forever.”
What amazing faith these two men had. So, my question for all of us is how can I get there? How can I dwell in this place of contentment and know that He is guarding me constantly? How can I unhitch myself from the reactions to the headlines of the day and find peace and contentment? How does one reach the place where we know we can do all things through Him who strengthens us?
I believe that developing two things into our daily lives can have the effect of knowing He is holding us in the palm of His hand and is guarding us. The fruit of these two things is contentment and peace.
And those two things are worship and thanksgiving. David was a master of worshipping God. This is why he wrote the majority of the songs in the book of Psalms. He worshipped in song and he worshipped in prayer. He did not need to be in a worship service with the choir, a band, and a congregation all around him. He often worshipped in silence and alone. Which is where he learned to…
“Be still and Know that I am God…”
Paul teaches us that the way to contentment is through thanksgiving. The whole book of Philippians is filled with references to giving thanks, rejoicing, and praising God. He writes;
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice!”
And to the Thessalonians he writes;
pray without ceasing,
in everything give thanks;
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”
Do you want to experience contentment in all things? Do you want to be able to go through the next 37 days feeling faith instead of fear and peace instead of panic? Then I challenge you to make time every day to privately worship the Lord at least once a day and begin a Thanksgiving journal where you record every day at least two things for which you are thankful.
The fruit of these actions will be contentment.