Confined Contentment

  • Jan. 26, 2012
  • #7759

Joni sings "Satisfied" and shares that one day at a time with Christ is the secret to contentment.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and here’s a hymn I used to sing when I began to feel satisfied in this wheelchair… 

All my life long I have had panted
For a drink from some clear spring,
That I hoped would quench the burning
Of the thirst I felt within.
Hallelujah! I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies my longings,
Through His blood I now am saved.

I happily sing this hymn now, but there was a time – oh, there was a time – when I was anything but satisfied in Christ. It was right after I got out of the hospital and was sent home in my wheelchair. I hated being a quadriplegic. I despised the full-length mirror on our bathroom door that showed me the truth: I was no longer standing up, I was sitting down in a wheelchair that took up a huge amount of space. And looking at my image in that big mirror, I wondered, Will I ever be happy again? It’s all I could think of every time my sister sat me up each morning. Doorways were too narrow and sinks were too high. I sat at the dining room table, my knees hitting the edge. A plate of food was placed in front of me, but my hands remained limp in my lap. Someone else – at least for the first few months – had to feed me. I felt confined and trapped. 

But my confinement forced me to open my Bible and take a long, hard look at another captive. It was the apostle Paul who had seen the inside of more than one small room from which there was no escape. For over two years, Paul was shifted from “pillar to post” until finally he arrived in Rome where he remained under house arrest. When Paul wrote to thank the church in Philippi for their concern, he reassured them with these words in the 4th chapter, “… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…” I tell you, Paul became the example in my own “prison.” I learned – and even now, many years later, I am still learning – learning the secret of being content. The apostle writes about this secret in Philippians chapter 4, verse 13. He says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Whether Paul was in want or need, hungry or filled, in prison or out of prison, Christ was enough for him. The power and strength from Jesus Christ could see him through the worst and the best of situations. 

Contentment in confinement has an internal quietness of heart that gladly submits to God in all circumstances. It’s that glad submission that makes your heart quiet down and not be so itchy and restless. But when I say “quietness of heart,” I’m not saying there are no more hardships, no prison bars, no more wheelchairs. No, what I am saying is, there is no more room for a sour disposition, peevish, resentful thoughts. There’s no itchiness to break free or plotting ways to escape. There’s no more fretting that only leads to anxiety. When you believe that Jesus Christ and His strength can see you through the worst of times, contentment shows itself in a sedate spirit that simply relies on Jesus. Contentment comes from many great and small acceptances in life. As the saying goes, when life isn’t the way you like it, like it the way it is. One day at a time with Christ is the key to contentment.

© Joni and Friends

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