Contentment is not simply about settling for what we have, but trusting in what God has said. Both anxiety and greed rise in our hearts as God’s words fall.
When the author of Hebrews wanted to teach his readers about contentment, he told them an old story with a familiar refrain. He quieted their fears and quenched their greed by reminding them whatGod had said. “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, forhe has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5). Which prompted Charles Spurgeon to ask,
Will not the distresses of life and the pangs of death, will not the internal corruptions and the external snares, will not the trials from above and the temptations from beneath all seem but light afflictions when we can hide ourselves beneath the bulwark of “he has said”?
The seed of unnecessary fear in the heart of a Christian is forgetfulness — an inability to remember and trust what the God of the universe has said and done. No one has ever had any grounds to accuse God of not following through on his word. Not even one phrase in any sentence in any statement he has ever made has failed (Joshua [21:45]).
We will only be truly content with what we have when we know that we have him. And we will remember that we have him when we hear and believe his voice.
God Has Said
When God said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” he was speaking to Joshua before little Israel went up to take the whole land of Canaan by force. A nation of nomads was about to invade a land filled with enemies bigger and stronger than themselves. Not one army, but many (Joshua [3:10]) — and not our turf, but theirs. Israel’s only confidence was that God had told them to go.He had said.
What did he say? The foreign land you are about to enter is already yours (Joshua 1:3). No enemy, no matter how many or how strong, will be able to defeat you (Joshua 1:5). And most promising of all: “I will not leave you or forsake you.”
This great promise will fall flat if we think mainly in terms of geography and not fidelity.Of courseGod will never leave us because he’s everywhere all the time. “If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” (Psalms 139:8). But we see God’sfidelityin the very next verse, “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (Psalms 139:9–10). If you are his, he will not leave you; he will lead and protect you.
When Joshua stared out into impossible circumstances and enormous opposition, God said,
“I will not leave you or forsake you. . . . Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5,9)
When the author of Hebrews saw what followers of Jesus would face, and how they would be tempted to wander, he went back to those same words (the only time this promise is quoted in the New Testament), “He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5).
You will never be alone. No matter how desperate and alone you feel, no matter how much opposition you face, no matter how precarious your circumstances become, he has said,I will be with you.His presence can calm any fear — if we don’t forget that he’s there, he’s near, and he’s attentive.