Are you currently content? Do you feel at peace and satisfied right now?
Some would say our current circumstances prohibit being content. Our world has been turned upside down. Ya’ll I haven’t had a Starbucks in 6 weeks. Schedules are all out of whack, some jobs have been lost while other jobs never seem to be finished.
These are crazy times! Is it possible to be content in the crazy?
Paul is our biblical mentor on contentment. In a thank you letter to those who had sent him a bit of financial support, he wrote the famous scripture Philippians 4: 11-13 “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
He wasn’t being dramatic. This man knew hardship. He had been whipped 5 times, beat 3 times, stoned once, lived through 3 shipwrecks, and thrown in prison a few times. In fact, he was writing this thank you letter from a prison cell.
AND YET HE WAS CONTENT.
Make a list of your current hardships. I’m pretty sure Paul’s would be longer. Life hadn’t been fair to him and it continued to be unfair sitting in prison for something he didn’t do.
But he hadn’t grown bitter. In fact, he is saying through it all, he has found a way to get better.
“I have LEARNED to be content.”
Is that what’s happening here my bored or overwhelmed, stressed out or worried sisters? Are we LEARNING TO BE CONTENT?
This is a learned emotion. We aren’t born with contentment. From infancy, we cried to get what we wanted. Then we just moved on to complaining about it. We sit and think about what we do not have and we feel unsettled and unhappy. And in it all, we are students here learning a lesson.
Contentment isn’t a theory that can be taught. It isn’t something we can master while getting our way and having more than enough. Contentment is only learned in the trenches of hardship and difficulty.
Think of contentment as a 6 pack set of abs.
We all want the abs. Dang, wouldn’t a set of washboard abs look good on you?!!!!! Crop tops for life if you could replace your 6 chubby belly rolls for 6 abs.
How does a person with abs get them? Did they buy them? Were they born with them? Did their mama give them those abs? Was it a pill that created this magical transformation?
No. We understand there’s one way to get rock hard abs … a ridiculous amount of situps, crunches, flutter kicks and other torcherous painful moves that leave you laying on the floor in tears. Most of us simply aren’t willing to go through that kind of torture to get that kind of stomach. But some are, and those are the ones with the abs!
And contentment is the same way. It is a RESULT of going through the hardship. It is a result of repeated problems and disappointment. It’s having something, then losing it, then working to get it back knowing you may not always have it.
Oh, we don’t like that training plan. That’s a high price to pay for contentment.
So what … we settle for misery?
Paul said I HAVE LEARNED TO BE CONTENT in all these ups and downs of life. He didn’t learn it from a book. He didn’t learn it from a movie. He learned it because he lived it. He had food, then he didn’t have food. He had money, then he didn’t have money. His plans worked, then his plans didn’t work. A continual training of learning what was important. Another lesson in where happiness does and does not come from.
With each crunch, the abs grow stronger. The pain brings growth.
The pain of your current circumstances also bring growth … IF YOU USE IT.
How can you use this for good now? How can you learn from the very thing you so desperately want to just avoid and skip right over?
How about Paul’s 3 Steps to Contentment?
This lesson from Paul came in a THANK YOU letter while in prison. He was grounded in gratitude even when the worst was happening.
You will never be content without gratitude. I’ve learned there’s ALWAYS something to be grateful for because honey it could ALWAYS BE WORSE. Sometimes I just thank God it isn’t worse.
Can you pray a prayer of thanks even when life is hard? Can you be grateful while things are still uncertain?
You can never feel the peace of contentment without gratitude regardless of circumstances.
Paul knew something. He knew God was with him. He knew he could do all things through Christ, and it was him who gave him strength. He knew no matter what he had or what he lacked, God was for him and not against him. He knew God would make a way, because through all those shipwrecks and all those beatings, God had been faithful to bring him through.
Right now, we are seeing for ourselves how God brings us through. We are learning things we never knew before. Things we couldn’t learn in any other way.
And now we know. We know Starbucks is delicious, but we can live without it. We know a paycheck is great, but God is our provider. We know we are stronger than we ever thought before, because God is with us.
Now that you know, don’t ever forget.
This is a choice. Paul made a deliberate choice in every circumstance. A choice to trust. A choice to find the good. A choice to be content.
Contentment does not happen by accident. No one woke up accidentally content in a less than perfect life. This is a choice, and it’s a choice every single day.
No, life isn’t perfect. No, I don’t know how this is all going to be okay. No, I don’t like every detail of my current reality. AND YET I CHOOSE. I make a deliberate choice right here and right now. A choice to trust. A choice to find the good. A choice to be content.
I will not be miserable. I will not be unsettled. I will not be worried.
I WILL BE GRATEFUL. I WILL KNOW MY TRUTH. I MAKE MY CHOICE.
WE ARE ALL LEARNING CONTENTMENT RIGHT NOW!