A Contented Single. A Happy Woman. What Is The Secret?
Author: Margaret Ashmore
God’s Word constantly shatters the illusion that this world holds any promise of making His people a happy and contented flock. Were that the case, I would be, according to “the traditions of men” a woman woebegone. I have never married, I have no children, gravity has taken an early toll on my frame because of cancer and yes, I have three cats. So why am I so happy and as content?
By God’s sweet dispensation of grace toward me, I have learned a secret.
The Apostle Paul spoke of that musterion which means, “confided only to the initiated” in Philippians 4:11-13 “… I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
We as God’s people learn contentment as we go through Christ in the midst of the very trials He ordains in our lives. And passing those God authorized tests by submitting to His rule, by relinquishing our rights, by trusting in His soul sustaining provision and by surrendering to His eternal, perfect and loving plan produces in the end, a soul “lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
But if in the midst of life’s adversities and disappointments I become angry and bitter, taking the world’s way out by justifying my sullen attitude because life didn’t turn out the way I wanted (which springs from a self centered and entitled heart) or if I retreat into my isolated kingdom of self-protection, I will have missed the very portal through which Christ infuses the bereft soul with His power. I will have failed the initiation, which would have brought me into the august membership of the pious who have seen into this great mystery – that going through the cross not around it, offers the divine disclosure of pure and unalterable joy and where the eyes of our hearts are opened to the “riches of the glory of the inheritance of the saints”. Christ is “the Door”. Going through Him opens the way to a feast of the soul – the sumptuous fare of a King’s table.
While it certainly brought with it occasions of sorrow, my singleness and subsequent childlessness frees me in undistracted service (I Corinthians 7:32-35) to Christ and His kingdom. Such a custom made providence has yielded time to nurture the wounded, give the Bread of Life to the famished, encourage the fainthearted, call home the wayward and bring the light of the gospel to those groping in humanistic darkness and which in the end, shifts my sight from me and onto a glorious, risen and triumphant Savior Who dispels the gloom of loneliness with one glance. In this, I am unhindered with “unperturbed pace” and can say as Fanny Crosby of old, who because of a medical “mistake”, was blinded as an infant:
“It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me”. She “resolved to be happy and contented” and would go on to write 8,000 hymns all to the praise and glory of God because the world nor it’s charms eclipsed the Son in her life.
When God opened my eyes to all that I possess in Him, all He has done in redeeming my life from a deserving hell and all that He gives from the His limitless supply of love and grace, one by one those bright stars on which I had pinned my hope for happiness were extinguished by the rising of the sun.
And from that truly contented place I wrote this poem:
Wept this eve for a child
That I’ve never known
But there is no striving to recall
As though his picture shown.
The ache – quicksilver through my arms
For nights that ne’r embraced
His kindred flesh, knit as mine,
Or his tell tale face.
No darker night I pilgrim,
‘Til consolation hold
That children otherworldly born
Their seed increase the Fold.
– November 17, 1990
Posted on July 11, 2014