Everyone has an idea of what peace and contentment look like to them. I think of green rolling hills and a cottage in the woods with a beautiful garden. I think of spending evenings on the front porch swing watching the sun set, sharing a conversation with friends and family. I think of a healthy balance in our savings account. In my “happy world,” my kids are all leading productive, satisfying lives and will grow up to start happy, healthy families, and all my loved ones are flourishing. That sounds peaceful. That sounds like a good life, and I just know I would be the very model of contentment!
In reality, the world’s a mess, my kids occasionally struggle, my husband and I are out of sync sometimes, money isn’t always abundant, we’re often tired, there are things we don’t enjoy but need to do, and things we’d love to do but rarely get to. And while I do have a front porch, I don’t get to spend many evenings swinging peacefully on it.
But I’ve been rereading the Gospels recently, and it’s interesting to observe Jesus’ approach to life. There’s much to learn from His example, but two things that pertain to this topic jump out at me:
I’m convinced that when I am experiencing anxiety, frustration, discontentment, overwhelm, or stress, the answer will be found under one of these two things. That doesn’t mean there isn’t anything practical to learn, change, or do, but it will likely be rooted in one of these things. It’s simple, but not easy. Fortunately, life provides daily opportunities to practice and get better.
Here are some examples of Jesus retreating:
“[Despite Jesus’ plea that His miracles be kept secret,] the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”1
“Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the sea.”2
“When Jesus heard [that John the Baptist had been beheaded], He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself.”3
And here is an example of Jesus’ trust in God, spoken at the most difficult time in His life:
“Father, if it’s your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, not my will but your will must be done.”4
1. Luke 5:15–16 NIV. See also Mark 1:45.
2. Mark 3:7
3. Matthew 14:13
4. Luke 22:42 CEB