…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11).
How often do we say this and actually believe it, or act on it for that matter?
We like to think that our hearts are content in all circumstances, but when push comes to shove, we find ourselves striving harder and harder towards fantasies of satisfaction.
Why is this?
Why is being content so hard?
Why does even the mention of that word cause a collective sigh of frustration?
I remember in late High School or early college working my regular night shift at Perkins Bakery. I was in the back baking up some pies while listening to the radio like usual when the song Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave came on.
I had heard this tune before so I didn’t really pay much attention to it until the lyrics began to pull me out of my distracted thoughts.
I hear the sound of Your Voice
All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise, oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming
I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
God I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You
It hit me. It was more than just head knowledge this time, it was a true, deep-rooted belief in my heart – I. Am. Content.
I was content right then and there, in the Perkins Bakery covered with flour. I was content and fulfilled with all that Jesus was in my life.
I was content with simply knowing Him and seeing a future with only Him in it.
Contentment is hard though. One minute it’s there and you’re happy with life – where you’re at, who you’re with, and where you’re headed.
Then out of nowhere something changes and suddenly what you were aiming for and patiently (or anxiously) waiting for is gone; replaced by something different and often times not what you were hoping for.
Contentment is pretty hard to maintain, but perhaps that’s because it is dependent upon things that are ever-changing.
In order to be content in all circumstances we need to find our contentment in the One who is consistent in all circumstances.
A couple of weeks after this ‘ah-ha’ moment, a friend of mine started dating this guy she had been talking to for a while. It was cute and all, but gosh – I wanted that too!
And wouldn’t you know it, my contentment somehow shifted from the all-sufficient God to an ‘ideal love story’ I was certain was just around the corner.
*insert exasperated sigh*
I told God that I was content in Him, but not in Him alone. Sure, I could be content with God for now, but eventually the thing that I really wanted would come and only then would I be fully, completely satisfied.
Jesus was enough…but only for now.
It wasn’t until about a week ago though that I realized my misinterpretation of what it means to be content.
Often when we ask God to make us content, we think in terms of what we want. We have this mirage of happiness – marriage, children, white-picket-fence lifestyle, a career, or wealth – whatever it may be, we have it dangling in front of us as we run around in circles trying to attain this idea of happiness.
We say, “God, please make me content in waiting for this or for that. Make me content and patient to wait on You.”
But what are we really saying?
Our contentment is based on that idea – that ‘ideal, perfect life’ that we have pictured for our future, and yet we wonder why our sense of contentment falters in the face of change…
We are asking God to make us content on our terms, and according to Paul, that’s just not how it works my friend.
…for 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 everything through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13).
Contentment is not found in waiting for what we hope will be.
Contentment comes when we find fulfillment in what we know to be true today; right here, right now. Today.
So we ask ourselves, “What am I absolutely certain of in this moment? What are the truths that I can hold onto right now?” Consider the following…
**This is an excerpt from my prayer journal on June 14, 2017 –
Help me to be content in the only things I know for sure:
- You are good;
- You are faithful;
- My purpose is to glorify Your Name;
- Today I am alive;
- Tomorrow I do not know.
This we know to be true.
Each of these statements are unchanging, never-ending, and ever-present in each moment of our lives.
These truths are consistent in all circumstances. You will never find yourself in a situation where any one of these is not true.
Therefore, if your faith and contentment is found and nurtured on these consistent truths, then believe it or not, you will have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11).
This we know, and it is in this that we find true contentment.