Jason Robinson, the World Cup-winning English rugby player, once told of an experience of jealousy. He was flying high as the star player of his team, with success on the pitch and all the trappings of fame off it. But inwardly he was struggling, and was perplexed by the sense of peace and contentment that surrounded his team-mate, Inga Tuigamala:
“I used to watch him in the dressing-room and thought, ‘What is it about this guy?’ He didn’t go out drinking, he wasn’t looking round the car park to see if anyone had a better car, he didn’t sleep around, all the things that you (misguidedly) think are the clever things to do. I didn’t have to ask him the secret of this happiness, I knew what it was: his relationship with God.” 1
In a journey through life full of outer pain (Psalm 129) and inner turmoil (Psalm 130), is it possible to find a sense of contentment and peace?
Psalm 131 describes a remarkably peaceful person. Their heart is not puffed up with an inflated sense of self; their eyes do not look down on others; their ambition is not greedy or beyond themselves (v1). Instead, they have learned the art of ‘calming’ their own soul (v2). How do we do this?
The simple answer, repeated from previous Psalms, is to ‘put your hope in the Lord’ (v3). This song explains this phrase in a different way too. As Jason Robinson discovered with his friend Inga, the company we keep breeds our character: if we spend time with people who are truly content, they will change what our hearts want, what our eyes see, and what our ambition aims for (v1).
If we want to find contentment that will last, we need to spend time with the most contented man who ever lived. When people spent time with Jesus, he brought them the most incredible contentment: he filled their hearts with joy (Luke 24:32) and he totally upended their ambitions (Luke 19:8). Elsewhere, the Bible claims that true contentment is found by fixing our eyes on him (Hebrews 12:2-3).
Initially, Jason found it a bit odd that his friend Inga was always smiling. But then they started spending time together; and years later, Jason credited Inga with saving him from the brink of suicide and turning his life around. But they both knew this wasn’t down to Inga himself, but it was because Inga was able to introduce Jason to his even greater friend, Jesus. Spending time with him brings the most incredible contentment you could ever know.
PRAYER Jesus, thank you that you know the secret to contentment, and that you want me to spend time with you. Help me understand what this means and what it looks like. Please grant me the inner peace that only you can give. Amen.
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quietened myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and for evermore.