I have cancer. It’s a very rare and aggressive cancer, and there’s no cure. It’s already spread to my liver and my bones, and it’s been eating my bones so that I’ve needed a walker and a back brace since August 2022. So, have I experienced any contentment during this horribly dark season? Yes. God’s currently teaching me “to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil. 4:11b NIV). Let me explain and share what I’ve learned so far about being content in every season.
Naturally, I would rather be content when life is easy and I’m healthy. I think I’m like most people: we understand contentment to mean being happy or satisfied because our situations are pleasing to us. Based on this understanding of contentment, I don’t have reasons to be content during this season. But I’m learning a different meaning of contentment from God during this difficult season.
The first time I realized that I have terminal cancer, God told me that he’s fully aware of my situation. That gave me so much comfort. When doctors told me there’s no cure, I despaired thinking I’m dying soon. But God gave me an encouraging thought: doctors say things they know about other people in the past, but only God knows my body and my future! And that’s the beginning of God teaching me to be content during this season. Being content in every season is based on God because only His comfort satisfies us.
During a very painful week, I cried and admitted I couldn’t suffer long in my own power. A Christian sister encouraged me that it’s a great thing to realize we are unable because that’s when we can rely on God who is powerful. She also reminded me to focus on the fact that I belong to God. Remembering that I’m God’s precious child, I cried out to God to help me in my suffering, no matter how long. That’s when I received hope and peace. Being content in every season is possible because we belong to God Almighty who enables us to endure suffering.
Further, belonging to God gives me so many reasons to be content. Belonging to God means I belong to the biggest and best family in the whole wide world. Currently, I have people on every continent praying for me! I’m filled with joy, gratitude and hope knowing that I’m part of God’s big family and that many of them are asking God to heal me. God’s children have also blessed me with so much love and encouragement. And the best part of belonging to God is that I have an eternal and resurrected life with God waiting for me after death! Furthermore, God has comforted me that He will lovingly hold me in His arms as I’m dying and that He will help my husband and daughter if I die before them. That gives me peace and joy. Being content in every season happens because belonging to God gives us blessings beyond our current situations.
I’ve been told again and again since the summer of 2022 that I’m going to need hip replacement and back surgery, but I have not needed surgery. I’ve been told I would be completely bald by September 2022, but I still have hair even though it’s thinned out a lot. I’ve been told I have a high chance to be dead within three years, but I’m still alive (it’s been almost a year). One time, I started believing that I am dying soon. Then I felt a stern but loving rebuke, in my mind, asking me who guaranteed that I’m dying soon. I’ve also been told many other scary things, and I’ve been tempted to believe them. But God has sustained me and provided for me even when I grew weak and despaired. God has used my difficult journey to help me learn to be satisfied in Him alone. And I’m not done learning. But I’ve realized that being content in every season can be learned because our powerful and loving God wants us to be fully satisfied in Him and because He will help us in all circumstances.
My horribly dark season has not come to an end yet. There’s no guarantee that I’ll be free of cancer. But there’s also no guarantee that I’ll die soon either. My future is completely uncertain. But I’m certain of one thing: I belong to God and He’s going to continue to help me and my family. God has given me this hope: every day that I’m still alive is an opportunity to keep praying for a miraculous healing. And God has also given me joy and a renewed purpose in life. I’ve felt a conviction that I don’t need to live like I’m dying but that I can enjoy life and serve others as much as I can every day that I’m still alive.
Every day, I’m still learning to live according to Philippians 4:11: be content whatever the circumstances. I’m learning that real contentment must be based on God because God alone provides what we truly need. In my journey of learning to be content, I’ve come to appreciate one important reality. That reality is that God desires to give us true comfort, hope, peace, joy, and blessings—especially those beyond this world—so that we can be fully satisfied in Him alone! I’m learning and expect to continue to learn that contentment does not mean being satisfied with pleasing situations but being satisfied in God alone. May you too learn to be fully satisfied in God no matter what season you’re in. And may your learning happen with easier circumstances.
*Pat (name changed) and her husband have served in Africa and are praying for a miracle.