by Shelby Turner
I’ve never been one to find contentment in the season I’m in. When I was dating my husband, I wanted to be married already. When we got our first apartment, I couldn’t help but dream of the day we purchased a home. When our first child was born, I was already picturing a house full of little ones years down the road. In some ways, I think my forward-thinking is a gift. I love seeing a picture of what could be then planning, praying, and building until I see it come to fruition. But, in other ways, my obsession with the future feels like a curse.
Constantly looking ahead can lead to discontentment. It makes it hard for me to appreciate what I have in the here and now. It also leads to fear and stress. The more I picture the future I desire, the more anxious I become about what will happen if my plans don’t pan out. Finally, forward-thinking can lead to an obsessive desire to control those around me so that nothing deters me from reaching my goals.
Ultimately, if I’m not careful, being future-focused can turn me into a fearful, anxious, ball of stress that puts unrealistic expectations on everyone around me. That version of me is very unpleasant to be around for everyone—including myself. Thankfully, the Bible has words of wisdom for when I’m struggling with being content where I’m at. And these words have been a lifeline of peace and hope for me. I pray they can be the same to you if you are also struggling to love your current life circumstances.
For me, the root of my discontentment is usually that I want to get more out of life than I am currently getting. If I have one flourishing friendship, I desire to have a handful more. If I have a little money, I want my bank account padded with more. If I have some happiness, I envision what it would be like if every part of my life was filled with joy. The problem with this is two-fold.
First, there is no such thing as the pain-free life that I envision is awaiting me in my future. It simply does not exist, not for you or me or anyone. Sin has its effect on every person and every life. We all experience lack, need, want, suffering, and sadness. No one, not even Jesus was excluded from experiencing the hardships of life on earth. Although, unlike you and me, Jesus did not sin when He experienced these hardships. Second, my desires are terribly misplaced. There is nothing that I gain in this life that I will keep forever. I won’t take my home, money, or marriage with me into eternity. So, if all of my hope and joy are tied up in accumulating earthly joy, I will be hoping in something that will one day come to a complete and final end.
There is another way to live, though. It is to live not with a longing to amass more but a longing to more deeply enjoy the Lord. Psalm 16:5–6 says, “Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.” What exactly do these words mean? Let’s explore that together.
Lord, you are my portion. Portion refers to an allotment or share of something. When the Israelites moved into the Promised Land, they portioned out the land, with some going to each tribe of Israel to work and live on. Perhaps, Lord, you are my portion could mean something today like “Lord, You are my home. My house may be where I rest my head at night, but my soul finds its rest in You.”
My cup of blessing probably refers to a glass of wine that would have been shared among friends. Maybe Lord, you are my cup of blessing would today mean something like, “Lord, You are my joy and in You, I find deep friendship.”
A beautiful inheritance refers to the possessions, land, and money that sons inherited from their fathers. For an inheritance to be beautiful, it must have been quite sizable. It’s possible that I have a beautiful inheritance that could be something like, “Lord, I have safety and a source of stability in You. You are the most precious gift I will ever receive.”
When we think about the grace, forgiveness of sin, and promise of eternal life the Lord has given us through Jesus, we realize that we already have everything we could ever want. And we will get to keep what He has given us for eternity. It will never be taken from us! Even in seasons where we have a physical lack, we have a spiritual abundance. For those who are in Christ, the Lord has caused the boundary lines of our lives to fall in pleasant places. God has given us a rich future, a beautiful inheritance, a cup overflowing with blessing, and a portion in which we can happily live.
Understanding this truth about God and how His goodness blankets each of my seasons have helped me find peace in everything. The phrases from Psalm 16:5–6, “You hold my future,” and “Your boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places,” are never far from my lips. Oh, how lovely it is to look ahead to our glorious future with Him. And how dull our earthly desires become in the light of Jesus. He is the secret to loving our season because He is with us, and Jesus’s promises are true at all times and in all things.