Contentment Irony

Photo taken by Mandy Sweigart-Quinn

One of my assignments for this week is to contrast secular contentment with biblical contentment. I have to confess, I have little contentment and joy with this writing class. In fact, taking this class reminds me of how much I hated scholastic writing when I was younger!

The weather where I live is finally starting to feel like Spring. My Okame Cherry tree is starting to bud; yet, I am a malcontent. Everywhere I turn people (myself included) are trying to process how to deal with all the changes that are occurring in our world.

Contentment is truly a learned behavior. Patience is definitely not the first word (nor the top 50 words) that my family and friends would use to describe me. If they were also asked to rate my level of contentment, it would also be really, really low.

We all know the Apostle Paul learned to be content with little or with much (Phil 4:11-12). Contentment is the context of Philippians 4:13 where Paul can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. I will be honest, I keep preaching to myself, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Phil 4:8 ESV); yet my mind is still set on myself and not God.

I praise God there will be a day when all this discontentment, anger and strife will cease. I praise God for the fact that the Kingdom that is coming has NO room for invaders, usurpers, exploiters, oppressors and con artists. I praise God that even when I am a malcontent that the Holy Spirit continues to call me to Himself.

Please folks, do NOT think that I have it all together! The person that I am online, is the same in person. God hates falsity and I do not ever want to have to stand before the Lord and hear Him say that my walk, talk and presence were inconsistent.

There is much in this world to dislike. Each day I am reminded of how little control I have over anything. Areas like thoughts and emotions where God calls me to exercise self-control, I am failing. I know that God is good. I know that God is Sovereign and that God is in control. Even though I absolutely loathe this one class, I know that God will help me see me through.

The greatest indictment on my demeanor at this moment is that I am choosing to have a mindset of a person who has no hope. I tell myself all the time that Christ is enough for me. But if that were true, I would be content “both in [my] circumstances and with [my] circumstances” (S. Ferguson, emphasis original).

Dear reader, how present is contentment in your life?!

Lord God, thank You for Your grace and mercy! Thank You Lord that You are greater than our fears, anxieties and circumstances. Lord God, help Your people to look to You rather than our circumstances. Lord God, help us to trust You as this world spirals more and more out of control. Lord God, as geopolitical alliances change daily, help us to focus on Your Kingdom that is coming, and not on the kingdoms of the world. Lord God, I ask that You bring more people to Yourself through these events. Lord God, help those who are truly lost and hopeless to know they have a hope and home in Christ. Lord God, may we never forget that it is in Christ and for Christ that we live, breathe and have our being. Lord God, thank You for this reader. Lord God, help this reader to cling to You today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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Blue Collar Theologian

My name is Mandy Sweigart-Quinn, I live in Lancaster, PA and I am a “Blue Collar Theologian.” I love Jesus! I am passionate about His Word (The Holy Bible)! I come alive when I can encourage others in their walk with Jesus (whether by writing or speaking). As a “Blue Collar Theologian” it is my aim to live/practice/work out my Christian hope with sincerity, authenticity and genuineness. As a “Blue Collar Theologian,” I strive to meet people right where they are (“Incarnational Theology”). I graduated in May 2019 from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master's in Biblical Studies. I am a passionate, excited and enthusiastic person! I love flowers, sports and sunsets. Since January 2, 2018 I have had the privilege of being married to Nathan.

72 thoughts on “Contentment Irony”

  1. Yes…contentment…..it seems quite illusive if I’m honest.

    The world certainly is changing, and rather alarmingly and dramatically so at present.

    So I find my peace is often disturbed as I think of Ukraine. Or Iran. Or fuel prices. Or heating gas prices here in the UK (they’re doubling this year for everybody and many were already choosing heating or eating!!).

    And yet I know that God is still above all and is still sovereign over all.

    Just wish I could better deal with the disconnect I struggle with between contentment and strife; between peace and the real world.

    But the real world is exactly where peace and contentment are best able to work….all I keep thinking is I must try harder. But, again, that isn’t how it works. If anything mist try less harder would be more apt as a son of the King of Kings.

    Andy B

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  2. I can see through your words that your current assignment is not an easy one, especially having to contrast worldly contentment with Godly contentment…it is akin to contrasting night and day, or oxygen and no oxygen. It is uncomfortable, especially if it highlights ones own short comings in Godliness. I must admit I am guilty of expecting Holy perfection all the time from myself, which I never achieve and end up berating myself. The trials of life, particularly the ups and downs of health keep pushing the ill contentment buttons, but I must learn to live in the moment giving Him all or what little I have at any time. In Him alone is my any hope for peace and contentment 24/7. I hope I manage to reflect this in my daily walk.

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    1. Thank you for your honesty, Alan! My issue with this class is that I am a professional writer so why must I take a writing class?! I am frustrated by this on so many levels. I am trying to focus on God in that He has brought me to this class. However, my professor and I have differences in writing style and personality so that creates an inner conflict for me. I do not want to lose my love for writing to conform to what my professor wants. Maybe that is selfish on my part. When I don’t see purpose or value in something, I become discontented and frustrated which makes for a tense atmosphere at home. I praise God that while I am not patient, Nathan is! I am thankful for your care for Nathan and I. Please know we love and care about you and Susan!

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  3. Right after I read this, I clicked on a news site and read that a strong earthquake just hit Japan. The preliminary estimate for the earthquake’s strength is 7.3. A tsunami warning has been issued.

    Oh, Mandy. Covid… Political unrest… Ukraine and Russia… earthquakes and tsunamis…. Yes, we need to keep our focus on the Lord Jesus Christ and NOT on the things of this world!!!

    Excuse me while I eat another piece of chocolate…

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  4. Praying for you in your writing endeavors, dear Sister! As I read your words on contentment, I was taken to Philippians 4:11, in which the Apostle Paul “schools” us on the process. He said that he had “learned,” using the Greek word μανθάνω (manthanō), from which we get the word for disciple, or a “learner.” We are all “in class” towards this goal of being “content.” Here the Holy Spirit had Paul use αὐτάρκης (autarkēs). Occurring only here in the New Testament, this word implies “independent of external circumstances, content with one’s lot, with one’s means, though the slenderest” (Joseph Thayer).

    A worthy and critical lesson for us all!

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    1. Thank you for sharing this, Barry! I am trying not to be prideful and accept that God has placed me in this writing class (even though my professor and I both graduated with the same under grad degree, a year a part. So yes, I know my writing professor and we have different personalities and styles). When I first learned I would have to take this class I genuinely thought about not attending the school! I was like, “God, I am a writer by trade, why do I have to take this?!” So, there is a war in my soul over this. A war between just doing it and being a malcontent. I do appreciate that Paul had to learn to be content. There is so much more to our sanctification than we even realize! Lots of love and blessings!!!

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  5. I hear and echo every word that you said Mandy. But . . . as troublesome and mind boggling the circumstances are around us, daily God answers the cries of our prayers and strengthens our faith in Him, sometimes even by our lack of faith or insight. A quick share – yesterday I blew it with my wife who has been diagnosed with dementia. This is heart wrenching to go through but normally God gives us the grace to get through each day. What with Ukraine and Covid 19, it seems at times to be almost enough to bury us, or at least that is the way that I sometimes feel. My son told my wife about something that had happened to him and my wife said that she didn’t know. But I had read his text to her that morning and I told my wife that I had told her. She told me insistently that I had not. I went to show her the text in the hope that it would refresh her memory and she knocked my cell phone to the floor. Our voices raised in tone and it wasn’t good. I got angry because it seemed to me that she was calling me a liar. We both went to bed early and neither of us slept much. Yesterday my son called me at work and reminded me of the realities of this disease. Short story is I was wrong and I was in tears for doing anything that would hurt her. I asked God for forgiveness and asked for His help to correct the wrong that I had done. The first thing I did when I got home was go to her and apologize and it just broke me. And she forgave me. That is God’s grace in action. Fixing what seems to be unfixable. I am so grateful for how He can clean up when I make a mess, and He does, some days more than others because of the me in me. I haven’t got a clue how the “other” problems are going to be solved but I know He is with me and my wife and there is no way to say thank you for that sufficiently. And Mandy, He is there for you too and all of us. One on one, day by day, He will get us through. God’s grace and love to you and yours Mandy.

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    1. Bruce, I pray if you feel so led, that you would share this with Peggy. Y’all have been heavy on my heart as of late and I now understand why. This life isn’t easy. The Christian life is a die to self life and merciful God how often I want to call down thunder rather than cast down myself, my pride, my need to be right. My heart breaks for you and Peggy. I am so glad that she has you to protect her, even when it is frustrating. I have spent most of my working career in skilled nursing and I tell people all the time there is nothing worse than when your memory fails you, when you no longer are able to comprehend, retain and/or trust what you know or hear. That is a legitimate frustration for all involved. I will pray for you Bruce to be the caretaker and husband that God wants you to be, while also not losing yourself and sanity in the process. I will pray for your strength and attitude to stay connected to our Triune God. You are a loyal man Bruce and I appreciate that about you. I appreciate your desire to grow in Christ more and more each day. Lots of love, blessings and prayers for you and Peggy.

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      1. Challenging. They are a non-profit start up so lots of systems to get up and running. I love a challenge though, so it is good. They are great people and really committed to Jesus.

        Blessings.

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  6. Thanks Mandy, I will pass it on to Peg. I think that part that got me was how God broke me, to see so clearly what I had done. And then the love that I have for Peg just overwhelmed me. That is a gift and with that gift I knew He had given me all that I need. He hears and cares and is able to do so much more that we can perceive. Just knowing how God can handle it all when we so easily can become overwhelmed is amazing. Blessings!

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  7. Wow, Mandy! I can really relate to you I’m this post. I am struggling in this new place. I am trying to see the good but keep seeing difficult things. This morning, I took note of the fact that my hands were no longer chapped like they were in the dry winter of El Paso. Liam and I also saw turtles 🐢 in the river, and it was so much fun! I think I’m going to start writing down these good things every day so that I remain aware of the good things instead of so easily focusing on the bad things. Anyway, know that you are not alone in these struggles, and I will pray for you as I pray for myself regarding these issues. Love you!

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  8. Ah, yes, contentment…it’s a struggle inside, a daily lay-me-down to pick up His peace. I most definitely relate. I have several of my own things that I deal with on this front, as you know, and all the changes of this world certainly add their challenge these days! As to your class, being that I love writing but cannot stand being told how to do it, I know I’d probably be feeling much like you. Yet, I also know He places us exactly where He intends and when. He is strategic that way. 🙂 I know there is a purpose and a plan in this class for you. It may even have very little to do with writing. It’s hard, but take it a day, an assignment at time, all in His strength. He’s got this. Prayers and much love as always, dear friend. ❤❤❤

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  9. This is indeed a good exercise and a worthy read/reflect in the morning! 🌄 GOD has a plan for you and stay in course. The Potter and the clay. On a different note, Wednesday is fine with me. Blessings to you and your family! “Invaders” 😉

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    1. I am glad to hear about your contentment! Everyone I come across, even with the church youth tonight seem to be on edge. I will say about Eastern Europe, it is shocking how horrific people treat me when I say both sides have issues. All forms of nuance, diplomacy and objectivity are void. I do agree the world has shifted the last few weeks. Praise God He is still in control.

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  10. This was such an honest reflection Mandy! Funnily enough my last blog was on contentment too, and after writing my blog, this week one of my uni courses has focused on contentment too as part of emotional wellbeing…seems to be the topic at the moment! I agree wholeheartedly that contentment is a learned behaviour, even for christians, but we have a Helper. Bless you!

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      1. You sure don’t need to apologise for anything Mandy! You’re a busy lady! It was lovely seeing your blog post, as I’m sure many of your readers would agree. 🙂
        I’m doing my Masters in Counseling… something I’ve been interested in doing for quite a while and this year a Christian college in my city offered this course for the first time, so I decided to take the step!

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  11. Feeling Contentment with any and every circumstance is a challenge. I know that I have to be intentional with it but that does not mean it makes it easy. Being in the writing class and not enjoying it – I feel for you. As it is something you are doing and have to see it through, I pray that God will give you some insight into how to either have a changed perspective or an experience with the class that makes it better for you.

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      1. I am well Mandy. Have been busy and a little overwhelmed with all that I had on my plate. And having a teenage son is not always a smooth parenting ride. He is a good kid but that does not equate it to being all easy.

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  12. Amen Mandy! It certainly is a challenge to always be content, I struggle so much with this and need God’s help! I hope and pray you find strength to get through those lessons! Think about the end result. I finished my Portuguese classes yesterday, I got 67% in my final exam which is C+, its okay but I have so much more to learn! Never give up, seek God and his kingdom, God is with us always. Much love and God bless to you, Nathan and PQ 😁

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  13. Great question. I don’t have a perfect answer to this. I don’t consciously think about my contentment. But obviously, it’s on my mind. It shows up in a different way for me. Am I grateful? Am I thanking God in all circumstances? I think contentment for the Christian is about peace in everything, regardless of the trial, or trouble or whatever is going on. It’s not circumstantial. Have I arrived? No. It’s always the goal. But I miss the mark a lot. Thanks Mandy! What a thought provoking writing assignment.

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  14. “But godliness with contentment is great gain”

    The context of this verse is being free from desiring worldly gain.. I have often struggled with a lot of what people call “contentment” specially Christians… Often it is a word used to condone spiritual apathy and is rarely used in connection with true godliness.. The Greek Word used here (as you know) indicates a rest, a sufficiency or a peace in what one has. And such should be true for us in terms of worldly things. However, in the pursuit of Christ and His fulness we are to know the great “Press” of which Paul spoke of in Philippians 3… We are to be filled with His peace but never “content” in our current apprehension of Him.

    “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.”
    Phil. 3:12-15

    Appreciate the candor – as I can easily relate.

    Blessings
    BT (been unable to get on to WordPress for awhile good to be back on)

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    1. Praise God you are ok, Brian!!!!! I have been telling myself that godliness with contentment is great gain! Thank you for mentioning that here! Thank you for sharing that I am not alone!!! Lots of love and blessings! So glad you’re back!

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  15. I have looked at your beginning picture several times Mandy and I think I have figured out why I like it so much.
    Your picture focused on the strongest part of the tree. The crotch wood and burls there have amazing brute strength, yet the tiny little shoots with tender blossoms forming will yield the fruit. I love the contrast. Elegance and strength. The beauty of the Lord and the Awesome conquering strength of the almighty.

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    1. Amen, Gary! Someday we will see our King in His Beauty and it will be amazing! Praising God that Jesus is our conquering King whose return is closer than ever before! Thank you for your encouragement and kindness with my photos!! Praying for you and your family!

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      1. That’s a tough one! I have benefitted greatly from both Psalms and John! I hope you were able to get some good sleep!!! I have been and will continue praying for this study tonight! I am SO excited about this and I know that it will help everyone, including myself, especially in light of being at WTS.

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      2. Wow I have to think about that one. I did enjoy former professors from there, I appreciate in the past Enns on Exodus and Longman III on proverbs

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  16. I am continually amazed at how our lives sometimes parallel each other. This is a very timely message for me, Mandy… one of the many issues I’m working through in my life right now. Thanks so much for share your struggles with us. Nice to know I’m not the only one. 💕 Love and hugs.

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    1. I am honored that you have taken the time to read this, Dee. Yes our lives parallel each other often and that is a blessing from the Lord to know that we have each other. Love you so much sister!!!!! 🤗🤗🤗🧡🧡🧡🙏🙏🙏

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      1. That’s fine! I’ve been waiting to ask as well! Lord God, prepare Jimmy for tonight and prepare all of us to hear the message You are going to use Jimmy to share. Thank You God that for all the evils of modern technology, we live in a time when we can learn, share Jesus through live feeds online. Thank You Lord for today. Amen and amen.

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