Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Age of Discontent

In the story Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye, the main character, a poor village milk man, sings of having material wealth. Tevye has already told us that he is a man of faith and has a desire also to be learned. But in this moment of dreaming of the things material wealth could buy for his family (and yes, maybe a moment of jealousy), he asks, 

“Lord, who made the lion and the lamb, 
You decreed I should be what I am, 
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan 
If I were a wealthy man?”

I have felt discontent. We all have at one time or another. My discontent has not been with things, mind you, but with situations. It has been disappointing to have my life plan change unalterably before my eyes more than once. I have felt stymied in my hopes and dreams on occasion. The grand plans of serving the Lord with my sweetheart by my side, traveling the world, of happy family gatherings with him….all of those plans have been disrupted. I have wondered, ‘what good is it to have hopes and dreams when they get interrupted so rudely?’ I have watched friends who are similarly stymied with life situations that are less than they ever hoped or dreamed. They may have had college plans that were sidelined by illness or finances, children who go fall into extreme addiction, children with severe illnesses that ravage their bodies and tax their families, spouses who suddenly and rudely decide not to be a spouse, careers that do not play out as hoped, or yes, spouses taken away in the prime of life. All of these and a host of other monkey wrenches can appear to ruin our well laid plans for life. 

I have wondered how to reconcile the wrenched life with the life I am in. I have poured out my tears in prayer. These disrupted plans are not wicked schemes, they are wholesome and righteous plans. Why can’t the Lord just give me what I want and plan? I have felt to ask, as Tevye, ‘would it spoil some vast eternal plan’ if my life just played out like I planned it?

Alma, a prophet of old, also had grand desires in his heart. 

“O, that I were an angel and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!”

What could be more noble and righteous than that? He desired to serve the Lord in a glorious way.

But Alma’s next words are also instructive; “…I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.”

Boy, does that thought dash grand plans! But as I have pondered this statement, I have found comfort. 

THIS life, the one I am in, is the life that my loving Father in Heaven planned for me. It is the one He knows will teach me the most and allow me the greatest path to learning. Through God’s grace and continual tender mercies, of which I have received many, I know that I am loved and all of these situations are for my personal benefit and growth. 

In this age of discontent, I am happy now to keep walking forward in the direction I am headed, knowing that Christ has overcome the world and that through His Atoning Grace, I can continue to learn and grow. I have not given up dreams of earthly happiness, I have come to see that a desire for eternal happiness with my sweetheart is something that I build here and now. That even though Robert is not physically present, we are working together on THAT vast eternal plan, and that there is much to be content with. There is much to do here and now. I am learning to trust that God’s plan, His Grace, is sufficient for me, and that gives me not only contentment, but Joy.

The answer to Tevye’s query is, “Yes! If I give you all that you want, YOU will be spoiled. You will not learn to trust me as you need to. This path you are on is where I know you can BE good, become better and also DO good!”

How much more can we be joyful
When there’s really something

To be joyful for!  

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