Burroughs, a seventeenth century Puritan, develops multiple avenues for developing contentment. After expounding on his specific and deep definition of what contentment is, he then moves on to develop ways we can grow in contentment during our lifetimes – because growing in contentment is part of growing in maturity and grace in Christ and it is not an end-point we will attain during this life. It is a grace we can always be growing in – and will always be given opportunities to grow in.
Contentment: Resignation, Submission, or Desire
One of the explanations for how to grow into contentment struck me. Again, it comes back to our definitions. What is contentment? Is it merely “making due” or “yielding desire”? This can be a starting point, but Christian contentment is so much more: It is wanting what God wants, and that includes wanting His providential work in our lives.
A gracious heart is contented by the melting of his will and desires into God’s will and desires; by this means he gets contentment.
He gets contentment not by giving up desire altogether, but by changing it from his selfish desires to a desire of God Himself, and by extension, whatever God has determined to do to bring Himself glory in this world.
He comes to have his desires satisfied though he does not obtain the thing that he desired before; still he comes to be satisfied with this, because he makes his will to be at one with God’s will.
And this goes beyond submission – a putting under of my own will in service to God’s – it is a whole change so that my desire is not under God’s, my desire is to be God’s desire.
But a gracious heart will say, ‘O what God would have, I would have too; I will not only yield to it, but I would have it too.’
Can I say I would rather have whatever God has determined to send me, regardless of what circumstances that involves, trusting God will use it for my good and His glory? God give me the grace to do so.
You must make God’s providential will and his operative will your will as well as God’s will, and in this way you must come to contentment.