Finding Contentment When Facing Adversity
It was Memorial Day 2005. The sun was shining, the sky was deep blue and everyone was outside soaking up the sun after a long winter.
Everyone, that is, except for me.
I was sitting in the hospital next to my husband, looking out the window at the beautiful weather and wishing I was anywhere but here.
Sam had been diagnosed with testicular cancer and was on a strict chemotherapy regimen, one required him to get chemo on a schedule, no matter the day.
We sat in a dark, non-descript hospital room, looking out at the sun-soaked day.
I wanted to spend the holiday gardening or working in the yard. I wanted to relax on my back porch with my husband. I wanted to grill food and eat dinner with friends.
I did not want to be in a hospital room watching my husband fight cancer.
I wanted to be doing anything but this. I wanted to be anywhere but here.
When we look at what we don’t have, instead of what we do, we’re likely to see a glaring deficit.
Little did I know that this would not be the last time I would spend a long boring afternoon at the hospital, looking out at a world I could not access, but only view from afar.
When my son was hospitalized for complications from his Leigh’s Disease, I spent countless nights sleeping on a hard couch in his hospital room. We were three hours from home and there was no easy way to stay connected to our community.
There are many ways to define loneliness. One of them is being in the hospital alone.
I looked out the window at the busy people hurrying somewhere and I envied them.
They weren’t in the hospital. Why did we have to be?
One of the hardest lessons I learned in that season was to be present and content, even though I wanted to be somewhere else.
In that moment I could only see what I didn’t have and it seemed unfair. That is where the root of discontent begins—when we only look at what others have and compare it to our lack.
But true contentment begins when we see the goodness of God, not for what He gives us, but for who He is.
When when we face difficulties, the only way to avoid the trap of discontentment is by focusing on who God is—His eternal traits—rather than our temporary circumstances.
This requires a difficult mental shift, where I stop entertaining thoughts of how life should be and instead focus on what is.
When I begin with who God is and how His promises for me are trustworthy—I focus on what is true, not what I lack.
When I think of eternity with Him rather than the immediate inconveniences of life, I focus on what is true, not what causes me pain.
The answer to the “anywhere but here” mentality is seeing God everywhere, including in the midst of a hospital room or sitting in my grief. Because He is in all those places, even when I don’t want to be.
By shifting my focus to Him, I’m learning to accept my place here and not anywhere else.