Having devoted over a decade of my life to working with the elderly, I have seen far too many who nearing life’s end, feel their life had no meaning, no purpose or satisfaction. But the lack of contentment in life does not belong the elderly alone.
At just 27 years of age, Tara Condell, a well-traveled, educated young woman, highly regarded by her peers, ended her life suddenly by hanging herself in her West 10th Street apartment in New York City. But just before her death, she posted a suicide note on her personal website. I was struck by her words which I’ve heard in one form or another over the years.
“I have written this note several times in my head for over a decade, and this one finally feels right. No edits, no overthinking. I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment, and I am just plain old-fashioned tired of feeling tired…” [New York Post online, January 31, 2019]
It is easy for us to write off people who make the choice to end their lives because they are depressed and find no contentment in life, but if we’re honest about it, we live in a world filled with people who live their lives pretending that they are content when the reality is that they are simply going through the motions of life, existing with no hope for the future?
Yes, I have seen many sincere Christians struggle to find meaning , purpose and satisfaction in their lives as well. I do not judge them. I know my own frailties too well. Overdriven people and those who become socially isolated are vulnerable to depression. But, is there an antidote that can lift the heart and encourage us even as darkness knocks at the door? Is there a well of contentment from which we can drink?
David, the shepherd-king of Israel overcame the stresses and anxiety of warfare, rejection, betrayal, and bereavement by drinking from the well of contentment, constantly remembering that in possessing God he had everything he really ever needed.The contentment David found in the turmoil of life is summed up in the first line of the most famous Psalm in the Bible, the 23rd Psalm. “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not lack.”
The late James M. Boice, the famous scholar-pastor of Philadelphia’s Tenth Presbyterian Church wrote:
“…If ever a psalm could stand almost on a single line, it is this one, and the line it can stand on is the first. In fact, it can stand on only part of a line, the part which says, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’” Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary. pp. 206 ff
That single line reminds me of a poster which gave me a ray of hope during one dark period in my life. It said, “If you have money but you don’t have Christ, you have nothing, but if you have Christ and have no money, you have everything.” To a young pastor with a young family to support and little income, more years back than I care to admit, realizing that God had my back, not only gave me hope, but encouraged my faith to believe God would provide, and He did! The boast of David, is much more comprehensive and greater than that. To belong to the Lord and to be the object of His care is to have everything! Blessed are those who possessing Him by faith, know He possesses them!