Today I was meditating on the Apostle Paul’s words where he described his life– once a rich, powerful man reduced to being beaten, ship wrecked, and imprisoned for his faith in Jesus Christ. Yet in the midst of his suffering he wrote the following:
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 Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13)
Powerful words. He was content through thick and thin and in reading this I came up short. Am I content in all circumstances? Not. What about you? What was the secret to his contentment?
The secret was his recognition that only through Christ was he strong enough to be content. So how does this play out practically in our lives? First of all we need to be sure that it is God who gives us supernatural strength. Naturally, as human beings we have strengths of our own, but when it comes to being content in the midst of some pretty rough stuff… that has to be supernatural strength alone that can get us through. So point number one is:
Deep contentment in the midst of suffering can only be found through the supernatural power of Christ in us.
The outworking of this in our every day life will require that we know God. And that brings me to point number two on the issue of contentment:
You can know about God but to truly know him we have to taste and see that he is good.
Recently, I read in a devotional a great analogy concerning knowing God. The writer described an avocado. You can study about avocados and learn everything possible on the subject, but until you taste an avocado you will never really know how good it really is. Same with our relationship with God. We can study all about Him, but until we dig deep and spend time with him– to taste and see His goodness, it will all just be theory.
Paul writes that in every situation he is content. That really catches my attention. Every situation! And that brings me to point number three. We learn contentment when we recognize that in each situation there is a God-solution. Human reasoning, though helpful, can take us so far. But when the rubber meets the road of your life and your life seems to be imploding, reasoning your way out only goes so far. Point number three:
Reasoning, though helpful, cannot always help us out of a situation of deep discontentment. God offers solutions that defy the natural. He asks us to see things through a different lens. His lens. God perspective rules the day.
So friends, contentment is a gift that comes from drawing deeply from the truth of God’s Word; drawing from a deep eternal well that fills us with hope. Paul’s life was rough when he chose to follow Jesus, but it was Jesus who gave him deep contentment in all things. It was worth the price. How about you?