A prayer of contentment


Dale McCamish - Contributing columnist



Where do you find personal contentment? How do you satisfy your soul?

Some gurus on the internet claim that embracing stoicism brings peace. Some Christian mystics suggest poverty provides happiness. Modern influencers point to the comforts of exercise or exotic vacations.

But lasting peace is not found in the perfect body or the perfect place. The Psalms teach me that only God gives permanent peace.

I hope that as you pray Psalm 16 with me this week, you take a huge step forward toward your own peace of mind and soul satisfaction.

Psalm 16:1-4 immediately reminds me that God creates all the good things I desire and warns me about the empty promises of lesser gods.

God truly rules over the earth. Since He created all other spiritual beings and all physical creation, we should turn to Him for our safety, security, and satisfaction (Ps 16:1-2).

Mental health issues continue to rise, extreme loneliness and deep depression persist even though activities are returning to a more “normal” pace. We crave love and stability. We are designed for relationship and community.

Only God provides a lasting love, stability, and relationship. Verse three says we can even find delight in His community of people.

But beware those lesser gods, those idols after which we clamor. “Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more…” (Ps 16:4).

All the idols of this world fail to satisfy our souls. The glitter quickly falls off any new purchase, our bodies eventually wear out, and all exotic vacations end when we return to work—which one of those “gods” gave you lasting satisfaction?

Study after study reveals chasing happiness just leads to greater depression, but pursuing the eternal God brings peace.

Instead of empty promises, God guarantees to never leave or forsake us. He desires to increase our integrity and even orchestrates the circumstances around us to give us the best opportunity to develop character.

He sends His Holy Spirit to empower us with love, joy, patience, faithfulness, and self-control. And as we grow closer to Him in our understanding and intimacy, we find, as one theologian puts it, “God is handling our lives well, that our bad things will turn out for good, our good things cannot be taken from us, and the best things are yet to come.”

With God we finally find contentment. The core of this prayer instructs our heart: “Yahweh, You alone are my portion and my cup; You make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Ps 16:5-6).

The prayer concludes with verbal praise — the proper response to sustained, inner joy.

But the joy in this prayer emerges from something greater and more enduring than just an adjusted attitude. The Apostle Peter while standing over David’s grave educates us that this Psalm is a prophecy about Jesus Christ.

Verse 10 says, “you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.”

David, the poem’s author, could not have been talking about himself, Peter tells us, because he was buried and his body did decay. But Jesus Christ was crucified and died in our place. He was buried and after three days, God raised Him from the dead.

Jesus’s life after death reveals what happens to us after we die. If we believe with our hearts and confess with our mouths, “Jesus is Lord,” we too will be raised from the dead.

This new life in Christ starts when you believe. Entrusting ourselves to Christ is how we take part in those eternal pleasures found in verse eleven.

Here’s my challenge to you for this weekend: Memorize this Psalm and pray it every day for six days. Record any thoughts the prayer reshapes and then tell me your report after a week.

I believe that pursuing God can change your relationships and your outlook on life.

The prayers in the Psalms teach us how to pray, what to pray, and what to believe. We all need help reconstructing “stinking” thinking. We all possess distorted feelings, thoughts, and wishes, but God trains us to think clearly with these written devotions.

Meditation on these prayers enables us to experience God’s presence. And contentment arrives when a healthy desire for God replaces superficial wants. Praying the Psalms continues to change me for the better.

I believe praying the Psalms can change you, too.

Let me know what you find by emailing me at dale@wcconline.org.

Dale McCamish is Senior Minister at the Wilmington Church of Christ.

This weekly column is provided to the News Journal on a monthly rotation basis by members of the Wilmington Area Ministerial Association.

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Dale McCamish

Contributing columnist