by Susanne Dietze
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Phil. 4:11b-13
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Bloom Where You’re Planted?”
I’ll be honest; I’ve never been a fan of it. Probably because it’s been used on me from time to time when I haven’t liked my surroundings (physical, emotional, or spiritual).
I’ve had a few occasions where I’ve resisted blooming. I’m not talking about those instances when we’re in awful situations and we need to run, not walk, away. (I’ve done that, too.) But there are other times when God may have placed us in a particular place and time, city or neighborhood, difficulty or trial, because He has a greater purpose, and it’s our job to discern that call and obey it. Like it or not.
So it turns out “Bloom Where You’re Planted” may be good—even godly—advice after all.
In Hannah Hurnard’s classic allegory, Hinds Feet on High Places, little Much-Afraid embarks on a spiritual journey to reach the High Places described in Habakkuk 3:19, where she can be with her loving Shepherd. Amid her companions, Sorrow and Suffering, Much-Afraid passes through dangerous territory and hardship, meeting others along the way, including one little flower blooming all by itself in the heat of the desert.
Alone in a desolate land, the flower manages to be beautiful, even though it lacks company, abundant water, or hope for a change in scenery. Much-Afraid is amazed by the flower's beauty, and inquires the flower’s name.
“The tiny plant answered at once in a tone as golden as itself, ‘Behold me! My name is Acceptance-with-Joy.’”
Much-Afraid is moved. “Somehow the answer of the little golden flower which grew all alone in the waste of the desert stole into her heart and echoed there faintly but sweetly, filling her with comfort. She said to herself, 'He has brought me here when I did not want to come for His own purpose. I, too, will look up into his face and say, "Behold me! I am thy little handmaiden Acceptance-with-Joy."’”
Resistance-With-Grumbling would be a better-suited name for me. There hasn’t been a lot of joy on my lips when I’m in a situation I dislike, times I’ve felt utterly alone, without relief or the pity of sympathetic friends. I’ve asked my Shepherd, “Why did you put me here? Can’t I be somewhere else?”
But of course, I’m asking the wrong questions. It is far better to ask, “How can You use me here? What do You want me to do?” And praying, “If it’s Your will, I’d love some fellowship in this desert. But if You want me to be alone with You, so that I depend on You more deeply and trust You more, help me to become Acceptance-with-Joy.”
Contentment is a process of cultivation. It’s not a character trait or the result of circumstance. Our journeys will take us through a lot of places we don’t like: illness, financial strain, cliquish neighbors, dry friendships. But the secret of contentment doesn’t have anything to do with what we go through or where we are.
It has more to do with who we are and Whose we are. If we persevere in His strength, in union with our loving Lord and Shepherd, accepting His will with joy, we can cultivate contentment, too.
That’s a secret worth passing on.
Susanne Dietze has written love stories set in the nineteenth century since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the 2010 Genesis Contest, the 2009 Gotcha! Contest, and the Touched By Love Contest, 2008 and 2009. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book, http://www.susannedietze.blogspot.com/.
Photos courtesy of www.wikipedia.com, except for Hinds Feet on High Places, courtesy of www.amazon.com.