11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
12 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.
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:11-13
Contentment is often misunderstood in the Christian world. Some read these verses and think they need to be happy with every aspect of their lives. Contentment is not happiness. It’s not celebrating the wrongs we encounter on a daily basis, it’s not being joyful over the brokenness that exists it the world. It’s accepting it.
Our hearts feel discontent because we were made for a different world. Our deepest desire is that we would know the beauty of a sinless world and the unconditional love of a Heavenly Father. The problem enters when we try to place our contentment in the things of this world. These things were never meant to satisfy us. But we look to them to bring us that joy our hearts long for, and when they disappoint, our contentment dissipates and we become cynical.
To be content is to trust in the will of God, to know His plan for our lives is best, and that His is our Protector. It doesn’t mean we can’t be frustrated with our circumstances, it doesn’t mean we can’t pray for God to rescue us from our trials. We are so far from the place we were created to dwell, of course our circumstances are going to disappoint and discourage us. But it does mean we are to leave those trials at His feet, trusting that He knows what is best.
We can look to Paul’s example of choosing contentment despite the circumstances he was facing to inform our responses.
23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one-I am talking like a madman-with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.
24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;
26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers;
27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. - 2 Corinthians 11:23-28
Looking at his list, my trials pale by comparison. But I need to remind myself that Paul was not superhuman. He did not have the ability to power up over his circumstances and put on a happy face. I think many believers think this when they read these worlds. If Paul can find contentment, I can surely be happy with my current situation and we stops there. We try to cover up our deep sadness with a happy face.
Paul’s ability to find contentment in whatever his circumstances does not come from himself. It’s not a super human ability to overcome, it’s a super natural power that comes from a filling of the Spirit. If we truly want to know the peace that comes from contentment, we need to do those things that allow the Spirit to fill our hearts.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗