It took a United States veteran to show me the face of contentment.
In a recent sermon, my husband made the point from his text in 2 Thessalonians 3:7,8 and Ephesians 5:1 that if we want to grow in our Christian walk in a specific way, find a person who exhibits that character strength and follow their example.
I think I’ve found my person. And he doesn’t even know me.
My daughter, in the clinical phase of her optometry school training, is currently serving a rotation at a Veteran’s Hospital. She has just loved these older men who have stories to tell and are delighted when she tells them she is headed for a stint in the Army after she graduates.
“You’ll do well in the Army,” one veteran told her. “You have yourself a good life.”
Katherine beamed. “You too.”
“I’ve had a good life,” he said. “Now it’s your turn.”
If I had to come up with a one word description for that man’s comment, it would be this:
Of all people, our veterans have every reason to grumble at the unfairness of life. Why did they have to put themselves in the line of fire? What’s wrong with the other millions of people who may or may not even appreciate or understand what the veteran went through? To add insult to injury, veterans have to put up with the bureaucracy of a crumbling medical system with unacceptable delays. Even their families don’t know or can’t begin to conceive the horrors they face on the battlefront. Yet their suffering, their exposure to the harsh realities of the rest of the world have made these veterans grateful for what they do have – life itself.
As a Christian, I have even more reason to be content. Hebrews 13:5 says:
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.”
And 1 Timothy 6:6 says,
Contentment is not about just being content with my physical possesions. It’s about being content with life itself. That veteran was content because he appreciated the gift of life. As a Christian, I have more reason to be content – I have bothj life and the promise of life eternal.
When I relayed this story to a friend, she grew thoughtful. “A lot of your older veterans are like that.”
What a wonderful reputation to have! How cool to have someone recognize that as a character trait about a certain group of people. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if the world saw Christians that way – that the next time we respond with contentment, peace, generosity or forgiveness, someone on the side lines said, “Well most Christians are like that.”
Time to go work on my contentment levels. Time to tell someone else, “It’s your turn.”
Who will you chose to imitate? Why?