I came across a picture years ago of a Christian woman living in a refugee camp in Myanmar (formerly Burma).
She was squatting on a dirt floor; the walls of her home empty canvas rice bags. Few possessions and no adornment could be seen.
But amid the squalor the picture captured something else–her radiant smile.
You could see in her eyes the pure joy she lived. Where was it coming from? Surely nothing seen. I know her stooped back must ache, the struggle with cleanliness and the lack of necessities a constant reality.
Yet, here she was looking beyond her circumstances to the joy in Christ Jesus–
communicating to me that all is well.
You see, it wasn’t that long ago I used to wake up wearing glasses of negativity and despaired over my unmet needs: no light from a switch, no water from a faucet, no vacuum (is that a need?), and no car of my own.
Blessings, it seemed, were few.
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. James 4:3
How often do we lament our daily trials and overlook our many blessings?
How often do we allow our physical state of affairs to dictate our spiritual response?
I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was guiding me through a set of life circumstances especially tailored for my personal growth and dependence on Him.
Without these hardships, would I have grown to rely on God alone?
Without these difficulties, would I have been content to stay as I was?
Are not hardships relative, anyway? I mean, I may have dirt on my floor, but her floor IS dirt.
If she can smile–how dare I not?
I’ve since repented from the squalor of my ungrateful attitude and awoke to the simple fact that no ‘thing’ can take the place of the peace God gives. No ‘thing’ is worth my salvation.
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?.. Matthew 16:26
This woman was showing me with her smile that Christ is her white linen tablecloth; He is her cherry wood cabinets and state-of-the-art range. He is her hardwood floors and decorated walls.
She was showing me with her smile the secret of a contented life.
The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant. Psalm. 25:14
My physical circumstances have changed somewhat since I looked upon that picture: I drive an old truck (thank you, God), use solar and oil lamps (thank you, God), and have a gravity-feed water faucet that gives me a fat trickle at my kitchen sink (thank you again, God).
But the most important change for me was discovering my dear sister’s secret–that contentment lies not in the façade of an ideal home, but in the spiritual foundation of your heart, which is Christ.
Oh, may we all come to the place where we can squat on a dirt floor and praise God.
Abiding in the Vine,
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The post “She Was Showing Me the Secret” was first published on Desert Rain.
Feature photo credit: Survivor ! via photopin (license)
Additional photo credit: Eyeglasses via photopin (license)