I’m realizing more and more how God has made me to be confident and content in Him. Things that used to seriously drag me down simply no longer do. Obviously, I am imperfect, and there are times when this is harder than others, but for the most part, I truly feel that there has been a shift in my life and my personal relationship with the Lord towards a deep confidence and contentment that I am beyond grateful for – not that anything has changed outside of me, but it has changed in my heart!
As I thought about how this has changed in me, specifically over this last year, I realized that it has actually come from a process I’ve been in for many years:
“Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, Who is the help of my countenance, and my God.” – Psalm 42:11
When I was in my first years of college, I wrote this verse in cursive on a pretty piece of paper and pasted it to my wall so I could see and speak it over myself every time I was discouraged. I found that if I truly allowed myself to reflect on “why” I was upset, contrasted with God’s goodness towards me, I didn’t have to stay there for long. It just ended up feeling small compared to Who He is to me, and the plans I know He has for me – not that it was ever unimportant or wrong to feel; just small. I learned how to shut down the natural negative tendencies in my heart and to hope, wait, praise, and not be cast down into discouragement, even though discouraging things may be happening. I really believe that the foundation of confidence, contentment, and joy in my life has come from processing things this way…processing all of my thoughts and emotions with God – the help of my countenance – through His Word. I leave nothing untouched and rest in His Presence because the alternative is not an option now that I know His freedom.
True confidence, contentment, and JOY can’t be faked. It’s not just an outward smile that only happens in public or at church. It is a profound, irreplaceable surety that can only come from knowing God and His promises. You can’t strive for it. It is not something that is earned or achieved once you get to a certain place in life because if that’s the case, it’s not true confidence – it’s only circumstantial, and who’s to say you will ever even get there?! It has to come from a place of acceptance of what already is – who you already are and what you already have in Him, so that no matter what happens in your life, you can stand confident, content, and at peace. It has to come from a personal relationship with Jesus in which you know Him and His kindness and goodness for YOURSELF.
When we receive our confidence and contentment from God directly, we don’t have to compare ourselves to others or their stories, or to be completely distraught when things don’t go the way we planned. As easy as that can be, there is a better way in the Spirit! When you know Jesus, you can know with confidence and without a shadow of a doubt that even though things aren’t working out according to your plan, they are still working out in His. You have a unique story that is different than the rest!
The Lord dealt with me in this earlier this year when I didn’t realize that I was comparing my story and timeline to that of others at my age and in my life. He woke me up one morning and spoke to me:
“Do you not think I have the best for you, too?”
This stopped me dead in my tracks and made me to think: Why would I ever want someone else’s story or experience or timeline when I can fall in love with my own? You see, if I can believe that God has the absolute BEST for me, and I’m not seeing it all play out yet, then whatever I’m envisioning and expecting must not be good yet! It may be best for someone else, their season, and their situation, but me, I’m on a different path…and IT’S called the BEST. It is not to be compared to anyone else’s, but it is mine.
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I caused you to be carried away captive.” – Jeremiah 29:13-14
When we seek Him, God promises that He will be found by us, but this verse also shows that sometimes – whether it’s by our own actions or not (ex: Jesus being led by the Spirit into the wilderness), He will lead us into places that have the potential of captivity. God does not tempt us with evil, but He is going to allow us to be put into difficult places/seasons that test or prove our confidence and contentment in Him. I’ve come to learn that this is not a spitefulness, but a kindness from God. If He didn’t allow us to go through this process, we would never realize how much we need Him, and never actually be fully confident and content. When we feel our confidence is breaking down, that is a gift and an opportunity to explore the fullness of Who He is, and who we truly are.
If you don’t know this kind of confidence or contentment yet, there’s nothing wrong with you! In fact, that is the most natural state of our lives. The good news is, you simply need to allow yourself the time and space to press into Jesus to receive it! Ask Him what He has for YOU. Cut old things out of your life that don’t need to be there – things that take your time and energy away from being truly filled up by Him, and that don’t make sense with the confident and content life you say you really want. Such things can be spending too much time with people, too much time on social media (talking to myself here!), and in general, too much time distracted and unable to stop and think! If you allow yourself to slow down for a second and realize that you are not confident or content, you don’t have to let it fester and continue. Seek the Lord for confidence, contentment, and FREEDOM from discouragement and depression. Ask Him for the eyes to see your current situation through His joy.
I am so thankful that I have learned a contentment that is separate from everything going according to my plan. Now, no matter what happens, I’ll be okay, because I trust the better plans God has for me. I encourage you to not look at a season of discontentment as what will always be. Look at it as a doorway of possibility into beginning to explore the confidence and contentment that has always been available for you through Jesus. Just because you don’t see it all right now does not mean that you can’t still be confident and content with what you already have. When you’re tempted to compare yourself to others, or to think that you’re somehow missing something in your current situation, remember:
“Do you not think He has the best for you, too?”
You can be confident and content wherever you are, knowing what He has promised.