“There is no heartbeat.”

As the words from the doctor’s mouth reached my ears, I was at a loss. These are words you never expect to hear and words that instantaneously alter your life moving forward.

Last September, I lay on an examination table as the doctor shared that our 16-week-old son had died in the womb. As the waves of grief ebbed and flowed, my husband and I began to wonder what it meant to be content. Google would say contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction. But that doesn’t check out. No part of me was satisfied with the reality of our son’s death.

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:10-13 ESV

Paul was in prison when he wrote these words to the church in Philippi. The word that Paul uses for ‘content’ in Greek is used seven times in the New Testament, four of which are used by Paul in his letters (see 2 Cor 12:10, 1 Timothy 6:6-8). The general scope of this word in the New Testament is to be satisfied, enough, sufficient, to be well pleased, to take delight. 

So, what does it mean to be content as a Christian? Contentment is a state of mind or being where someone is satisfied in God no matter their circumstances. That means that even as I mourn the loss of my son, I can be content. Despite my circumstances, I am complete in Christ.

The 17th-century author Jeremiah Burroughs, in his book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, defines contentment this way: “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition.”

Even when faced with the deepest sorrow, I believe that God is in control and that he is good. No matter the circumstances, I can have hope and delight in the Lord and how he has been kind to me. But there are people in the world who do not know where to find hope when faced with tragedy.

In one week, my husband and I will move to the snowiest metropolitan city in the world—Sapporo, Japan. Japan is a country where less than 1% of people are Christian. There are many people in Sapporo who are discontent, who are facing suffering and do not know where to turn, who are longing for more. 

For the millions in Japan’s north who have yet to find God, we plan to start a new church that will proclaim the hope of the gospel with the people of Sapporo. We want people to know that no matter the suffering they face, there is a God who loves them and they can trust the one true God as their source of strength and hope. Please pray for God to be glorified as we set out to start this new church in the city of Sapporo.

Tanner & Delaney Salva

The Salvas are church planters working with Mustard Seed Network to plant churches in urban Japan. Japan is one of the most unreached countries in the world, and 99% of the people do not know Jesus. The Salvas live in the city of Sapporo and are in the early stages of planting a church in the city.

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