Monday, April 26, 2010

Contentment In Rough Waters

My rowing club has started its training program for the summer sprint races. The workouts are long (over an hour) and hard. This morning, there were high winds that made the water in Long Island Sound rough and difficult to row on. We were also buffeted by wakes of several oyster and lobster boats leaving the harbor for a day of fishing.

When I jokingly complained to the coach about the rough conditions he said, "This will make you appreciate the calm water up river." Since the river is protected by high banks, the wind was blocked and we had flat water for the last mile of our workout.

This rowing experience contains some truths about living. Often, we are more grateful for the "calm" times after a challenging time of difficulty. The times of loss, deprivation and suffering enhance our appreciation for the times of abundance, contentment and relief from suffering.

The spiritual challenge woven into the above is to be able to experience gratitude in the stormy times. It's easy to be grateful when things are going smoothly. But, when we have to experience "rough water" times, being grateful is challenging. The key is to cultivate an attitude of gratitude that transcends our life circumstances. Grounding our gratitude in a lasting relationship with God is one way to sustain it.

The Apostle Paul was able to write these words from prison, "I have learned to be content with whatever I have..." Paul's strong relationship with God was the basis of his contentment in every circumstance. He provides a clue for us to learn the secret of contentment in stormy times.

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