It’s not surprising that the Bible has inspired countless artists; the text is full of vivid pictures. Take this passage, for instance: “You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!”1 As true today as it was two millennia ago, we can easily visualize what the prophet Haggai was talking about: job dissatisfaction, the struggle to make ends meet, vain attempts to keep up with the dictates of fashion, the declining value of money.
Now let’s turn to Ecclesiastes: “Better to have one handful with quietness than two handfuls with hard work and chasing the wind.”2 This one is a (literally) moving picture. Imagine one hand filled with a favorite treat such as nuts, fruit pieces, or chocolate. You can snack away contentedly. Now imagine both hands filled with coins that you’re trying to keep from dropping to the floor while you grasp a rope to control your boat’s wind-blown sail.
Although we need to work to provide “bread on the table and shoes on our feet,”3 and it is a gift of God to eat, drink, and enjoy the fruits of our efforts,4 “chasing the wind” goes beyond this. Satisfaction comes when we learn to thank God both for what we have and what we have not.—And that is the secret of contentment.5
“Contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated. … Paul says, ‘I have learned to be content,’6 [suggesting that] he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth.”—Charles Spurgeon (1834–1892)
Dear Jesus, You have made everything beautiful in its time.7 Give me the joy to live in this moment, thanking You for Your provision, not only of material necessities, but also of the love and faith that You offer all those who reach out to You. Help me to know the reality of Your promise, “My grace is sufficient for you.”8 Be my center and my focus, so that my heart will be at peace.