Book: The Art of Divine Contentment by Thomas Watson (Part 4)

Chapter 10- The Third Use: A Persuasion to Contentment

In this Chapter, Watson addresses the objection to contentment that says God has dealt too harshly with me how is it possibly for me to be content?  In this chapter he gives us examples of circumstances that may lead to this type of attitude.  He calls these apologies.

I will have to admit that many of these are extremely difficult situations, which would test our faith.  Many of these examples would be very difficult and yet God would be greatly glorified if we could through immense help from the Holy Spirit find contentment in these circumstances.

We’ll discover that some of these examples are not ones we may struggle with but should remember that others do.  Some are extreme and others not as difficult. 

Apology 1- The loss of a child

How would it be possible to be content when one of your children dies?  Here Watson throws us into the deep end and tells us to swim. 

His answer makes sense and yet would be very difficult in times of great loss.  He tells us that we must be content not only when God gives us a great mercies but also when He takes them away. 

1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (ESV)

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

He remarks that in God’s wonderful providence perhaps He has taken away to give more of Himself. 

Another reason Watson gives is to remind us that actually they are not our children at all but God’s possessions like all things God owns our children.  So, if we have children they are but lent to us for a time and God’s to take back when He choses.  Be reminded that if God does take a child He has given to us His only Son.  In giving us Jesus we have, according to the author, been given far more than God would ever take even if He takes a child.

Hebrews 1:3 (ESV)

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Apology #2- I have had a great part of my estate strangely melted away

God is sometimes pleased to bring us very low so that we will see Him more clearly.  In God’s providence your wealth may be removed but your portion in Christ is secure. 

Lamentations 3:24 (ESV)

24    “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

Perhaps it was taking away the security in money that one finds security in Christ.  Wealth can be a great snare for the human heart.

1 Timothy 6:9 (ESV)

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Another thing one should be reminded of in this situation is that it’s not how much one has but how much of God’ blessing rests upon it.  A small amount with God’s blessing is more valuable than untold wealth without it.

Psalm 132:15 (ESV)

15    I will abundantly bless her provisions;

I will satisfy her poor with bread.

Apology #3- It is sad with me in my relations.  Where I should find the most comfort, there I find the most grief.  

Here the author highlights the relationships between parents and children who do not know Christ.  Here the argument lies in the fact that if as parents you have sought to teach your children the Scriptures and the way they should walk in them should when they become adults walk away from this guidance and truth then the parent should pray and weep for your children but not sin for them.  Here he refers to the sin of being discontent over their state. 

Watson writes, Who can help it if a child—having the light of conscience, Scripture, and education, these three torches in his hand—yet runs willfully into the deep ponds of sin? 

Next he writes about the struggles of a born again wife with her lost husband.  His response is much the same.  A godly wife cannot save her lost husband.  She cannot believe for him.  Yet the danger for her is to grumble and complain about his sin.  She must pray for him even though this relationship should bring comfort yet it brings sadness.  She should always remember that his life, while not one that glorifies God is bringing her closer to God.  She trusts God more, relies on Him more and prays more because of her lost husband.

When human relationships don’t bring us comfort remember our love for Christ and that eternal relationship will never be disappointing.

Apology #4- But my friends have dealt very unkindly with me and proven to be false.

I’m sure just about everyone can attest to this example.  Most of us have been let down by friends or maybe even worse.  Friends can betray us.  A friend betrayed King David, in Psalm 52.  A friend betrayed our Lord as well.  We should not think anything different would happen to us.  We must not let abandonment by a supposed friend to cause us to sin by way of being discontent and complaining.  Rather we should turn to our real and greatest Friend, God.

We have a friend in heaven that will never fail us. 

Proverbs 18:24 (ESV)

24    A man of many companions may come to ruin,

but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

As believers, God is our true Friend.  He is a loving Friend (Isaiah 40:11), He is a caring Friend (1 Peter 5:7), He is a faithful, compassionate, and constant Friend.

John 13:1 (ESV)

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Apology #5- I meet with very great sufferings.

Yet consider:

Your sufferings are not as great as your sins.  When we suffer it is good to consider this truth.  Rather than complaining we should be repenting. 

Watson comments, a carnal spirit makes more of his sufferings and less of his sins.  The carnal may say, never has anyone suffered as I have done but the godly says, never has anyone sinned as I have done.

When we are under afflictions and trials we have the opportunity to show Christ as exceedingly glorious and He outshines and overcomes our afflictions.  Our suffering seems much lighter as we gaze at the face of Christ.

Apology #6- But see how the wicked prosper!

Often the evil do enjoy all the good and the good all the evil.  Well, be content, for remember:

These are but acorns which God feeds swine.  We who are believers have more choice fruit, namely, Jesus Christ. 

To see the wicked flourish is a matter of pity rather than envy.  Whatever they have now is all the heaven they will ever get. 

Luke 6:24 (ESV)

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

 King David actually explains the he has discovered that the wicked are in fact often those who do have an abundance in this life and treasure it over other things.

Psalm 17:13–14 (ESV)

13    Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him!

Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,

14    from men by your hand, O Lord,

from men of the world whose portion is in this life.

       You fill their womb with treasure;

they are satisfied with children,

and they leave their abundance to their infants.

Watson writes, Alas their prosperity is like Haman’s banquet before his execution.

If a man were to be hanged, would one envy him to see him walk to the gallows through pleasant fields and fine galleries, or to see him go up the ladder in clothes of gold? 

Psalm 92:6–7 (ESV)

   The stupid man cannot know;

the fool cannot understand this:

   that though the wicked sprout like grass

and all evildoers flourish,

       they are doomed to destruction forever;

We must not sin by being discontent as we watch evil people who prosper.  This is just trivial temporary stuff while they face eternity in torment.

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