We live in an uncertain world. The pandemic came out of nowhere and changed our lives and our routines. It was a huge change and some of that change will remain for years to come. Even when things are going smoothly and our future appears certain, there is still uncertainty that causes us to worry, grumble, and complain. Not only that, we are envious and we covet, and that adds to our discontent. Things don’t always go the way we would want. We can be unhappy even in the best of times. And yet we desire to be content and satisfied. I think we can learn from our brothers and sisters in China, who are currently in a really tough situation.
I recently read an article about how China has been clamping down on Christians (and other religious groups) since new laws went into effect on 1 February 2020 (and in February 2018). The new laws basically say that all religious activity is to be overseen by the State and operated in accordance with the Chinese Communist Party policy. And the new laws specify that all religious activity within China must promote and support the Chinese Communist Party. As a Chinese Catholic priest commented: “In practice, your religion no longer matters, if you are Buddhist, or Taoist, or Muslim or Christian: the only religion allowed is faith in the Chinese Communist Party.” The official legal churches now have a lot more oversight done by unbelievers, and the unofficial house (jiating) churches will no longer be ignored. Some of the house churches were large churches that rented space. They can not rent any more and will now have to keep a low profile. I think that means returning to small groups meeting in homes again. The majority of Chinese Christians are a part of the house churches.
And yet in this article, I find that they seem to be not worried or complaining even though their situation has made a big turn for the worse. They remain firm in their faith. As you read the quotes below, note their faith that God is in control, despite the circumstances. My added comments on the quotes are found in the brackets.
“The Christian hope lies in this—we are not stronger or purer than others, but rather than believing in ourselves, we believe in Jesus, who upholds us whenever we fall, who strengthens us when our strength is drained, who loves us when we are in pain.” [They recognize that God will be there to sustain them.]
“The Devil is using this opportunity to crack down on the church, that’s for sure, but God will use it in a different way.” [They believe God will take a bad situation and ultimately turn it for good.]
“We still do a lot of active planning, but more humbly we say, ‘Lord, if you are willing: this is your time. Use it.’ . . . We don’t know what the future holds.” [They are not fatalistic. They still plan, but they ask God to guide them and use their plans.]
“But we know that everything is under his control, and he is behind everything. Whatever happens is God’s way to prepare his church. He is always preparing his church.” [They see that God is in control and they believe what happens will be for the good of the church as a whole.]
“Through uncertainty, we depend on our certain God,” he said. “God calls us to live an uncertain life, so that we can trust and rely on him.” [They don’t know what the future holds, but they trust God to be their firm foundation.]
The last quote reminds me of this passage from Isaiah: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3) We can be content and need not worry, grumble, or complain. We have a firm foundation found in the loving God we trust, and that is where contentment is found.