The Search for Contentment During Loss

Eleven years ago, I was scrambling to plan my son David’s high school graduation party. A lifetime of little league games, band concerts, and scraped knees flashed before me. Where has the time gone?

Spring was in the air, and there was such excitement and anticipation for David, with a host of new life experiences and memories for him, yet to be written. A new chapter in our son’s life, a new chapter in ours. It was all so overwhelmingly emotional and awesome! It was one of those moments when you think your heart might burst from such joy.

David’s graduation open house was a hit. With everyone in town for the weekend, I was excited to have family pictures taken – David in his purple gown, and of course sporting his favorite Green Bay Packer baseball hat. I had no idea these would be our last family pictures with David.

A week later, while celebrating with friends, David smoked a synthetic drug called K2, and took his life 90 minutes later. The overflowing joy I’d felt before was quickly replaced with the deepest anguish I’d ever felt in my life.

How could you let this happen God?! How on earth will I ever be able to live a contented life without him?!

How can any of us live a contented life when we’re faced with the worst of the worst?

In the midst of it all, my soul quieted. My heart surrendered and I slowly began to take all of my broken pieces to God. As I searched scripture, I found hope in Paul’s words in Philippians 4:12-13,19.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do EVERYTHING through Christ who gives me strength. And my God will meet all of your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” 

So, how can we live a life of contentment in a discontented world? As I read and reread these words, I was encouraged. These verses are an incredible promise; they are a statement of faith that reminds us in good times or bad times, Jesus is our strength. He will give me what I need when I need it. He will ensure that my life will continue with purpose, meaning, and yes, contentment.

It’s important to mention that Paul actually wrote these words from prison. Prison and contentment? Can you imagine? My Bible commentary adds more to this; Paul was content because he could see life through God’s point of view. He knew how to be content, regardless of his circumstances because he was drawing on God’s power for strength. (Life Application Bibles are the best!).

This isn’t a one-and-done exercise that moves with the wind of our emotions, this is a real relationship with God, one that is ongoing and life-giving. It takes perseverance and a ton of physical and emotional energy. It’s hard and exhausting, but it’s worth it.

Dear friend,

The secret to your contentment in life isn’t a secret at all; it’s the Lord Himself. As Christians, we can do nothing apart from Jesus. He alone is our lifeline, during the good, the bad and the unthinkable. I’m praying you will trust Him with your broken pieces today and always.

Praying for you.