There are some memories that are forever burned in my mind. One of those memories was a day spent in an orphanage in Chengdu, China. I was honored to visit this orphanage with a group from my church and I was even more blessed to be able to have this experience with my then eleven year old son. I found my diary from that trip recently and this is one of my entries:
The orphanage was just outside of the city. When we arrived we met two young girls, around eighteen years old, who had been Christians for about two years. Since that time they have dedicated their time to caring for the children in the orphanage. There are currently thirteen boys and 1 girl living at the orphanage, but over a hundred children have been through their doors. The man in charge has a notebook with information on each child – where they were found (some at train or bus stations, some just roaming the streets, and others foraging for food in restaurant dumpsters), the day they came to the orphanage, and the day they accepted Christ – along with a picture of each child. The man who runs the orphanage relies solely on faith. The day we were there the girls were cooking cabbage and onions which they could get for $.05 per pound. They rent the building for $1000 per year. A pastor who was with our group gave the man enough money to pay the rent for the next year. At one point we all went upstairs to a terrace where they would hang their clothes to dry. The children asked to sing a song for us. They closed their eyes and lifted their faces toward heaven and began to sing in Chinese. Our interpreter told us they were singing about how much Jesus loved them. Tears rolled down their cheeks. Even the youngest children sang with such feeling. it was obvious that the Spirit of the Lord dwells in them.
As I stood there listening and watching the children sing I was ashamed. I was ashamed of how spoiled I am. I was ashamed of all the times I complained about the silliest of things – things that were so trivial. I was ashamed of all the times I had complained about being too hot, or too cold, or not having a cold coke in the refrigerator, or having to wait in a line. I could go on and on. Here were these orphans – rejected by their parents, some with disabilities, with only cabbage and onions to eat – but they are praising God and singing about how much Jesus loves them. They had almost NOTHING in the form of worldly goods. But they had faith and they had trust. They had a love for the Father like nothing I have ever seen before. They were content.
As a teenager I had memorized Philippians 4:11 – Not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned, whatever state I am in, in this to be content. I had memorized that verse and knew it in my head, but on this day I was seeing it lived out by these orphans and I was embarrassed that I had not taken this verse to heart the way these children did.
I live an incredibly blessed life. I have a wonderful family. I have more clothes than I need, more food than I need, a nice car to drive, a job that I LOVE. I am rich beyond measure. There is NEVER a reason for me to be discontent. The audacity to complain is ridiculous. May we all look inside our hearts and take inventory. May we be aware when discontent starts to creep in to our minds.
And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. Timothy 6:8