The Hard Fought Battle for Contentment

He stared at my back in the queen size bed we share. The inches between us loomed like a brick wall lined with barbed wire. I sobbed. He sighed. He must have felt as helpless as I did.

I suffered under a border blockade which prohibited the entry of petrol, propane, and essential goods in a country I never planned to live in. We faced winter with fewer than four hours of electricity to heat our home each day. It seemed I was at the mercy of an evolving government, the paper-thin houses, and my freezer-burned spirit. I was furious with my cozy Stateside friends who didn’t understand and my husband who couldn’t fix it.

In the morning, as I stood shivering, waiting for the shower to heat up, negative thoughts creeped in and claimed territory in my mind. I wished desperately for the rage to run right down the drain with the hot water. At the time, I wouldn’t have admitted that I was angry at God. I would have said I was overwhelmed and exhausted. I played the victim well because I believed I was absolutely powerless.

We had endured the hardships of an international move followed by natural disaster and economic crisis, but our marriage had now been threatened. Each night, we went to bed with cold hands and struggled to turn up the heat between life-long lovers wrapped up in ice cold sheets. Our intimacy had been killed by the chaos and cold that made up our days. The negative thoughts came around again to tell me what I already knew: I had lost all control.

When I was finally swept away by the avalanche of emotions, Truth spoke over the noise and told me that my anger had been displaced from the start. I looked beyond the emotional triggers and identified the real enemy wreaking havoc in my soul.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12, KJV).

Satan was the author of the negative narrative. He told me I shouldn’t be living in this miserable place. He made me think that I deserved more and that maybe God was holding out on me. He asserted his authority on the battlefield of my mind, and I was losing the war along with everything important to me.

As Truth shined in, it thawed the frozen places which preserved the lies. I saw that I was never really powerless. While I had been losing the battle, I could still win the war because I was clothed in Christ’s power and carrying an impenetrable shield. My mind was protected by the security of my salvation, and I possessed the most powerful weapon, the Word of God. I felt invincible knowing that the only Man who conquered death fought on the front lines for me.

When I had waved the white flag and gave in to the oppressive thoughts, I had credited the enemy with a victory he didn’t win. I had robbed Jesus of blood-bought spoils and myself of contentment found in the finished work of Christ. I was not made to be a victim nor purposed to be powerless. This revelation, unfortunately, came at the end of the cold season after anger had made gloomy days out of otherwise joyful ones.

I remember it now as the temperatures begin to drop again. I hear the ominous echo of a piece of American pop culture of which I’m not completely oblivious- “Winter is coming.” I begin to dread the days ahead. The familiar feeling of helplessness emerges as the enemy tells me how grim the future looks. I question why I would fight again, thinking it might be easier to have a daily date with my couch while I sulk in suffering. But I remember my calling as an ambassador of Jesus Christ and the reason why it’s worth showing up armed for war every day.

…that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel (Eph. 6:19, KJV).

I fiercely fight for my marriage because it is an integral part of my gospel testimony. I claim assurances of the truth of God’s word and opportunities to proclaim His goodness. I find contentment not in a well-stocked pantry or a climate-controlled home but in the One who goes before me in battle and holds me on the winning side.

Basking in victory, warmth washes over me. The light of hope casts a sparkle in my eye, and my husband notices. I think he likes this look on me.

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