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How Do You Spell Relief?

contentment

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

The symptoms of discontent, whether worldly or spiritual, manifest themselves in a wide variety of ways. As a sojourner in this world, we have an ever-present battle with discontent and its symptoms. To be able to stand firm as followers of Jesus we must recognize discontent, battle its demons with the Word of God, and seek to live in contentment.

As an unsaved young person, my discontent showed up with the beginning stages of a generalized anxiety disorder after my parents' divorce. I was so stressed that I began skipping high school and self-medicating with alcohol and people. I eventually dropped out of college as well.  The next blow to my security was the loss of a family business. I began worrying about how to provide for myself, where I would live, and whether anyone cared about me. I had dizzy spells, panic attacks, and some obsessive thinking. As I got a bit older and was still lost, my thoughts turned darker, and I worried about illness and death, had abusive relationships, and suffered the consequences of sin to the extreme. The symptoms also increased. Along with the panic attacks came agoraphobia, hives, and night terrors. I had no knowledge of what to do about any of it, and tried many worldly ways to soothe myself.

In His sovereignty, God used my distress to draw me to Him at the age of 29 (John 6:44), but because of my ignorance of His Providence and the sufficiency of Jesus’ atoning death, my symptoms persisted--and increased. When I got married and had a baby, I felt some relief of my symptoms, but once the realities of marriage and motherhood settled in, the battle began to rage again. In 2001, while holding my baby and playing with a toddler, I watched the twin towers in New York fall to a terrorist attack. My husband was on the road and hundreds of miles away. The onslaught of fear, anxiety, and worry began and raged for several years. It wasn’t until God led me deep into His Word that I began to learn how to receive deliverance and to see His provision and love for me in everyday situations.

When I began to ask for help, He put godly, biblical counselors into my life. These connections have been essential in my deliverance and healing. Through these men and women, God taught me that people and situations were not within my control. I learned that my value not is based on what I do or what I have, but on the fact that Jesus loved me and died for me, and that I would spend eternity with Him. Realizing that God’s work in my life is a lifelong project (Philippians 1:6) caused a miracle in my thinking. This was astounding to me and brought large doses of relief to my life. I have a Father in Heaven who is looking out for me, is providing for me, and has dealt a death blow to my flesh, the Devil, and the world system. This knowledge has brought such freedom, such peace, such joy, that I really don’t have the appropriate words to express it. I praise Him for what He has done.

I must admit that my flesh is not cured of its disease of discontent. I am starting to think that God allows a bit of anxiety to crop up now and then to remind me of several things:

  1. I am not the one in control.
  2. I need Him every day.
  3. I still am attached to my sinful flesh which is not yet glorified.
  4. Humility is very important in the life of a believer.
  5. Complete relief is coming, but not yet.

As I started to ponder writing this blog post, I kept thinking of an old antacid commercial. I laughed as I thought of the situations presented in the commercial where different scenes showed various sufferers of stomach distress asking, "How do you spell relief?" The answer was R-O-L-A-I-D-S. They said you could receive relief from all kinds of symptoms by taking their product. I am telling you that you can receive relief from discontent. Relief is spelled J-E-S-U-S.