With the holidays upon us, we want to wish you a Merry Christmas! We've had a wonderful year and while watching the cultural and political events unraveling around us has been a bit unnerving, we remain convinced that God is in control and that He is very good. We pray His blessings upon you and yours.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Eli & Amanda Evans (and Exodus Books staff)
Humans typically have a hard time enjoying what they've got. We want more things, or better things, or (if we're particularly resigned at the moment) we simply complain about the things we already have. If it were simply material possessions we treated this way it might not be such a difficult problem to deal with, but we extend it to every aspect of life—our relatives, our political leaders, our churches, our knowledge.
Not that we never have cause for concern when it comes to some things (we could use better political leaders), but the principle of contentment isn't predicated on the best possible conditions. God doesn't tell us to be thankful we live in the best of all possible worlds, he tells us to be thankful despite the fact that we live on a fallen planet among fallen people.
He also doesn't give us permission to wait until things get better to find contentment. Americans often seem to be anticipating a hero who will come along to save us from economic and political catastrophe, rising crime rates, poor television programming, etc. Our hero has already come, on whom all reason for thankfulness and contentment is based: Jesus Christ, who brought nothing from heaven except Himself, who found perfect joy and peace in God the Father, who offers that same peace to everyone who believes and has faith in Him.
Christmas is an especially thankless time. We're mad at the lunatic drivers, mad that our coupons are out of date, mad that the person in front of us got the last Tickle-Me-Elmo doll, mad that our kid isn't in the church musical. When things are so bonkers, it's hard to even understand the meaning of words like satisfaction and contentment, let alone to live by them.
A lot of our lack of contentment is simply fear, even when it comes to buying presents and putting up the lights. We worry that this person won't like that gift, that the rolls will be burnt, that we'll miss Rudolph on TV, that the family get-together will end in fighting and anger. We forget that putting all our focus on Christ alleviates the worry, the fear, the dissatisfaction. Which is ironic, given that Christmas wouldn't exist without Him.
There have been a lot of near misses lately, not least the repeated attempts of our government to get our economy out of the danger zone. While we shouldn't have a cavalier attitude toward ruin or hardship, we also shouldn't let difficulties stand in the way of fulfilling our obligation to the Giver of all good things. When God tells us to praise and thank Him, He's not offering suggestions, He's issuing commands, and we're to obey Him no matter what our material or emotional circumstances, whether as a nation or as individuals.
We're never given permission to occupy Wall Street, or Washington, or anywhere else just because there are people within those places who abuse their power. The Bible makes it clear there are no basic human rights: we can reject God and go to Hell, or we can become God's children and live with Him forever. God never gives us the right to bellyache because someone out there makes more money than we do.
Besides, none of us in the United States can really complain about anything from a physical perspective. God has given us everything we need to live comfortably and well, and most of what we want. Even the poorest of us live in homes with heating and running water and electric light. All that remains for us to do is find contentment, not primarily in those things, but in the One who gives them.
Thirty-five reviews were submitted in November; December isn't yet over. We'll be announcing the winners for both months as well as the grand prize winner in our January newsletter. Happy New Year!