Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
Next Monday was supposed to be ‘freedom day’ – the glorious moment when social restrictions were finally and completely lifted. After more than a year of lockdown we were looking forward to enjoying one another’s close company again at events and hospitality venues. But recent infection trends have forced the Government into another frustrating delay and now ‘hope deferred makes the heart sick.’ (Proverbs 13:12)
Psychologists describe a pattern of emotional reaction to change with something called the Kubler Ross curve – shock, denial, anger, and depression before acceptance. Sure enough, we experienced them all in lockdown. And now that another hope has been deferred, disappointment and frustration are surfacing again. Businesses are struggling and even when complete social freedom in the UK is finally authorised, there will still be overseas travel restrictions and the nagging fear of another variant – another wave of the pandemic from somewhere. This isn’t over by any means. And many people, who are already traumatised and exhausted, will take a long time to recover.
One of the keys to human flourishing in times like this is learning to be content. That is a huge challenge, because contentment is the polar opposite of the frustration we naturally feel. The Apostle Paul wrote: ‘I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation’ (Philippians 4:12). The irony is that learning contentment requires challenging circumstances, just as learning the related discipline of patience can only be done in the face of irritating delays.
Contentment does not minimise the reality of suffering, or avoid taking necessary action. Contentment is choosing to receive God’s peace on the inside. It is a deliberate posture of humility and a disciplined, conscious choice to rest and trust in God. As Psalm 131 says: ‘I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel put your hope in the Lord, both now and for evermore.’
When you meet a person who has learned to be content, the peace that quietly radiates from within them is attractive. That peace will have been hard won and usually forged in difficult circumstances. Now we have the opportunity to learn contentment and it is not easy. Yet if, with the Psalmist, we can rise to it, then on our everyday frontline we can be those special people of peace in the midst of a frustrated and discontented world.
Paul is a mentor, author, and speaker and chairs the Board of LICC.