”… Be content with what you have …”
— Hebrews 13:5
Scripture tells us that Abraham was content with a mere tent and nothing more. Why would that be true? He lived in a city where houses were made of brick and mortar. He was wealthy. Where was his ambition?
Well, continue reading. He may not have started out in a tent because, after all, he was very wealthy. But, when God called him into the wilderness, he began to live in a tent. The Bible does not tell us how Abraham or Sarah felt about the situation, only that Abraham obeyed. He adjusted to a mobile life, pitching his tent in different places each night.
My late husband came from very humble beginnings. His favorite saying was “I could live in a tent in the backyard.” My response was always, “Well, I can’t.”
I can’t? Or I won’t? Obviously, I am perfectly capable of living in a tent, cooking over an open fire for my nourishment and washing my clothes with a rock down by the river. So, yes, I can … but I don’t want to do that.
We are the sons and daughters of Abraham. He set a good example for all of us to follow. There are many who have done just that. They live in mission fields all over the world. They live among the homeless in shelters. They live in the streets because they want to understand what it is like for others who have no choice but to do so.
They do so for a time, but they know that there is an end. Those in the reality of that situation do not know when or if it will end.
Abraham did not know when it would end. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. Still, he was content with what he had.
So, why was Abraham content with a mere tent after having so much? Because he looked forward to the day when God would replace his tent with the most magnificent structure ever built … a structure not built by human hands, but built by the hand of God.
In today’s society, we seem to never be content. We don’t relate to what Abraham experienced. Contentment is a gift from God. It is a blessing. Perhaps it’s time we accepted the gift … and the blessing.
The Rev. Marianne Nichols is pastor of Charlottesville United Methodist Church. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.