Is it possible to experience contentment in the midst of a global pandemic? As we approach Christmas, we are not sure we can gather as family and friends. Our provincial government has declared no social gatherings in homes. They have done this because their data indicates 40% of new cases come from home social gatherings. That is a hard one at Christmas with great potential to mess with our contentment.
Yet consider Psalm 131 (ESV).
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
My eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
Too great and marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with its mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forevermore.
The Psalmist experiences contentment because of two choices. First, he will not occupy himself with things too great or too marvelous for him. For some of us, it is hard not to think of great and marvelous things. We constantly look for new opportunities or for ways to make a significant difference in our world. I do not think this Psalmist says we should stop that kind of thinking.
However, there are some (many) things that are too great or marvelous for us. A mature person does not brag about how much they know but confesses how much they still have to learn. We do not control the universe or the world. Nor can we control the pandemic. One lesson from this pandemic is that despite our best efforts, some things are beyond our control. Individually, we might have to recognize that we are not #1 in our field or profession or influence or followers.
This might seem like a cop out or a giving up. Yet there is great comfort in knowing that there is One who does know and rule over everything too great and marvelous for humans. God knows all and rules over all. We can leave that which is too great and marvelous for us to Him.
Then comes the Psalmist’s second choice. He says, “I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother.” There is a difference between a nursing and weaned child. The nursing baby screams for its mother’s milk whenever it is hungry. It goes (or is brought to its mother) to receive something from the mother. However, a weaned child no longer depends on the mother for milk. So if a weaned child wants to be with its mother, that means it wants to enjoy the presence of the mother not just get something from the mother.
This is the key to Psalmist’s calm and quiet soul. Instead of troubling himself with things too marvelous or great; instead of crying out to God to get something from Him, the Psalmist just rests in God’s presence. There he finds peace, security and comfort knowing the Lord reigns over all.
Therefore, whatever this Christmas season will look like, it is still possible to experience contentment. We can rest in the Lord who knows the pain of separation from our loved ones. We can commit to the Lord our uncertainty regarding the length of the pandemic or the distribution of a vaccine. We can entrust to Him all the great questions that swirl in our minds. I pray you will experience contentment in Him this day.