Straining our Eyes

I love to make photo books and look at pictures from past vacations because it gives me an opportunity to savor the blessings we experienced as a family. The long car rides and sibling squabbles all fade into the background as I remember the sweet memories of meals, shared adventures, and relaxation. In the biblical book of Numbers, the Lord reminded the Israelites of all the amazing things that had transpired to bring them to the edge of the Promised Land. One of the greatest ways to experience contentment involves taking time to stop and count our blessings.

Life is difficult, and the wilderness wanderers had experienced plenty of difficulties: thirst, arguing, death of loved ones, frequent moves, temptation, and opposition from neighboring nations.

In the midst of all the Israelites’ problems, God gave them many glimpses of grace—many blessings along the way. He freed them from slavery, led them along the way, reminded them of His presence through the Tabernacle, fed them, gave them water, instructed them in communal living, and used the sacrificial system to foreshadow the ultimate covering for their sin that He would provide through His own Son.

The Israelites had a choice in how they would remember their experiences. They could learn from their mistakes and draw near to God, or they could complain about all the inconveniences and difficulties. We have a similar choice every hour of every day. Though we want to be authentic about our pain, we can choose to strain our eyes to see the goodness of God in the midst of a fallen world.

The Psalmist said it this way, “My eyes strain to see your rescue, to see the truth of your promise fulfilled.” (Psalm 119:123) Where do you need to strain your eyes to see God’s blessings, even in the midst of difficult circumstances?

This is a huge key to contentment. When we count our blessings, we find a lasting calm settling in our souls. On the other hand, when we dwell in our difficulties and rehearse the injustices in our lives, complaining spills out of the overflow of our hearts and minds. Let’s remember along with the Israelites where they have come from as they stand on the edge of the land of promise.

Sometimes our blessings can be difficult to see. Often it is not until we have the benefit of hindsight that we recognize God’s gracious hand. Some blessings are physical, such as the land flowing with milk and honey that God promised to His people. Houses, cars, clothing, and food are gifts from the Lord that many of us enjoy. Most often, however, our blessings involve character, growth, and intimacy with the Lord and people. While material blessings are temporary and bring us fleeting pleasure, spiritual blessings are eternal; and contentment is one of the spiritual blessings the Lord longs to give us—longs to give you. You and I can learn contentment as we thank the Lord for His gifts and obey His commands.

Take some time now to thank the Lord for all His blessings. Express your gratefulness for what He has done, is doing now, and will do in your future!


One week from today over 1200 will be participating in the Contentment Project! If you haven’t signed up, consider joining us for this free project which includes seven days of learning contentment by

  1. Replacing mental and verbal complaints with contentment statements as you move a bracelet from wrist to wrist as a tangible reminder
  2. Getting still for 5 minutes each day to focus on God’s character
  3. Reading a contentment devotional emailed daily for 7 days

. You can get all the details and sign up here: http://melissaspoelstra.com/contentment-project/

 

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