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Pastor’s message: September

Dear Friends,

As I sat to write this letter I had decided on the subject of contentment, but received the tragic news that one of my closest PNG friends has lost yet another son. We had known them as a really contented family with two sons and two daughters. Before we left PNG the older daughter died in tragic circumstances. Shortly after we left the marriage broke down and he remarried. Just before our last visit in 2014 we had the message to say the older son had died with a heart attack and now this! Is it possible to be content in such a situation?

That is not a simple question to answer and it must never be answered flippantly, but some of the most poignant hymns have been written by people who had faced tragic circumstances. Perhaps the most famous was “It is well with my soul” written by Horatio Spafford. He had lost a son aged two, and was later financially ruined by the great fire of Chicago. He sent his wife and remaining children ahead of him on a trip to Europe, but mid-Atlantic the vessel sank and only his wife survived. He followed later and passing the point of the disaster he wrote his hymn. He was secure in his faith and trusted God even when he did not understand. A more contemporary hymn begins,

When I fear my faith will fail
Christ will hold me fast
When the tempter would prevail
He will hold me fast
I could never keep my hold
Through life’s fearful path
For my love is often cold
He must hold me fast
He will hold me fast
He will hold me fast
For my Savior loves me so
He will hold me fast

Such statements of faith surely challenge us to consider our experience of contentment. Paul wrestled with this issue in his own life and was able to write,

I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. (Phil 4:11, 12).

To what extent do we demonstrate contentment? The weather challenges and disturbs most of us. We moan at “the beast from the east” and struggle with a particularly “flaming June”, so how do we cope with the more significant demands of life – our own health, the health of relatives; our battle with sin and temptations; the challenges and criticisms that come because we seek to live a godly life in a hostile world.

Paul had gained such a contented approach to life, because he was able to state without contradiction “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13) His life was a moment by moment experience with God through Christ. I have no doubt that we would all cope with the challenges of life far more readily if we knew regular and life-changing fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

One Still-Learning to be Content,

Bernard Lewis

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