Across the Pastor’s Desk: The secret of great contentment

Published 8:00 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

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Across the Pastor’s Desk by Nancy Overgaard

Nancy Overgaard

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” — 1 Timothy 6:6, NIV

If asked to give a graduation commencement speech this year, I would choose contentment as my theme. Amid bleak economic forecasts on inflation, interest rates, and prospects of buying a home, young people especially need to know contentment is still possible. But they need to know the secret.

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Recently, I was surprised to hear the 1980s referred to as a time of economic hardship. I had not noticed, not paying attention to news at the time. I look back on my time as a graduate student living in the Boston area in the 1980s as a time of great contentment.

God provided a unique living situation in which I shared a classic brownstone home with seven Christian roommates near Harvard Square. By sharing expenses and living simply (walking and taking the subway rather than owning cars) we kept costs extremely low in a city considered extremely expensive.
Even with only one telephone, newspaper subscription, and shower, we were content.

A favorite memory is one of my new house mates gleefully offering me a cardboard dresser she found discarded on the street by another student. It served me well for my two years there and was easy to leave behind when I moved, costing me nothing. I treasure those memories.

Generations before me, my grandparents survived the Great Depression by sharing homes with extended family and being resourceful (gardening and raising animals). Challenges were offset by good memories, as my dad growing up with a cousin as a brother in one home.

More striking is the contentment of the Apostle Paul in far sparser conditions. When writing his first letter to Timothy, Paul was living simply, traveling as a missionary with no permanent home and few belongings. When writing his second letter to Timothy, Paul was imprisoned in a cold dungeon for his faith. Yet, all he asked Timothy to bring was his cloak and parchments.

When writing to the Philippians, while under house arrest, Paul shared: “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 (Christ) who gives me strength.” — Philippians 4:12-13

Simply put, the secret of being content is knowing, trusting and relying on Jesus Christ. Once we understand that secret, we can find contentment whatever our circumstances.

Nancy Overgaard is a member of the Freeborn County Ministerial Association.