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 a sneaky emotion. Our hearts tend to live in the current emotion, and that’s what dictates our level of contentment. In other words, if things are currently going well, then we feel fairly content. But discontent can hide in the corners of our heart, appearing only when pressed down upon, and then it wreaks havoc on our emotions. So it’s important we regularly think about our hearts and where we may be feeling unsatisfied with our lives. We need to be intentional as we dig the discontent out.
When evaluating contentment in our lives, we should be thinking about four different places our hearts may hide discontent: where I am, what I do, what I have, and who I’m with.
Where I am is where I live. So often, we tend to think we would be happier someplace else. Whether it’s a bigger house or a renovated one, a better school district or warmer climate, we idealize other places. We desire contentment, but when we are discontent with where we are, our hearts long to move. we do not let our thoughts drift to moving. The truth is happiness will not grow by moving to another place - no matter the reason. It may shift for a little while as you experience that surface level contentment, but of discontent exists as a reason for your move, you’re probably going to end up desiring another move at some point in your future.
What I do is my work. We live in culture that promotes fulfillment in a job and if we're not doing what we're completely fulfilled in, we are lacking. This isn’t necessarily true. Yes, we should be using our gifts to further the Kingdom, and we typically recognize our gifts by the fulfillment they bring to our lives, but sometimes we need to be content with where we work. Sometimes God placed us in a job, with no way out, because He has something in that job for us. There is some refinement or lesson He may need us to learn, or perhaps there are people He intends for us to interact with - perhaps they need to grow us or we need to grow them.
I just love the story of Jeremiah - it speaks to these very struggles.
4 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. - Jeremiah 29:4-7
God doesn’t tell them to go get a job where they feel fulfilled, He tells them to do the work that’s in front of them, and seek the welfare of the city they live in. The Israelites begged God to rescue them from exile, but he said no because He had something in that hard place for them. We all know the verses that follow.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. - Jeremiah 29:11
God had a plan for the Israelites while they were in exile in Babylon, and He has a plan for you in the job you’re in - plans for a future and a hope. Instead of complaining and fighting against where you currently work, how would it honor God to choose a heart of gratitude and contentment for where He has you?
Press on ~ you are loved 💗