Tall they stand on the side of the busy BA-51 Expressway.

A patch of glorious, defiant sunflowers.

Trucks zoom by. Eighteen wheelers rumble. Even railroad cars chug not two feet away. Yet against all odds and the blustery fall weather, these flowers manage to flourish. They point their petals upward to the sun and shine, putting a smile on my face every time I see them.

Why do they make me smile?

Because they remind me contentment isn’t bound to a time when our circumstances are picture-perfect. Joy doesn’t have to wait until everything in life makes sense, until we have no more hindrances and no difficulties or hardships block our path.

No, contentment rides along on the tailgate of a kind of ‘holy defiance.’ It’s the choice we have today to wake up and battle back against discouragement. It’s the choice to take our disappointments to God and let Him speak His truth and encouragement over us. We can give in to whatever lie the enemy is hurdling at us, or we can stand tall like those sunflowers and declare, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).

Many of you know this popular verse.

You may not know, however, that it actually comes within the context of discontentment. Paul faced difficulty: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.” Yet he “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12 NIV).

Paul’s secret to contentment is really no secret at all. He simply chose defiant dependence on God.

And we can too.

We can turn ours face away from the buzzing traffic and up toward the Son. We can lean into His strength, courage, love, grace—whatever we need in the moment for whatever ‘things’ we have to do. And we can remember He is with us. He’s not disappointed. Rather, He’s for us and loves us.

Fiercely, defiantly, without end.

*Originally published by the Joyful Life Magazine.