“For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”
Have you ever felt sarcasm rise when you hear this verse? Something like, “Well good for you” runs through your brain when you are struggling with your current circumstances. Then you feel guilty because you are responding to the Word of God with sarcasm. *Sigh* Me too.
I realized the other day that Paul wasn’t bragging. He was encouraging his followers. He had to LEARN to be content. Which means he STRUGGLED with being content. What a relief to know we aren’t alone! Being content in trials is not our natural state. Being anxious, worried, upset, angry, or confused is our natural state.
Contentment requires practice. Practice requires training, struggle, failing, trying again, and celebrating the small victories. Eventually, with enough practice, we can learn contentment in all situations.
What exactly is contentment? The dictionary says it is satisfaction or ease of mind. I think it also includes surrender. Surrender to God’s plan and timing. When we surrender to God, we cast our cares and burdens on Him and allow Him to ease our minds and create a sense of satisfaction. Satisfaction with His presence, not necessarily our circumstance.
Contentment does not mean we are pleased with our situation, it means trusting God in our situation. God is trustworthy. God will care for us, provide for our needs, carry us through the trial, and bring us out in victory. God is with us in every situation.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
This was the promise God made to Joshua before entering the Promised Land. It is a promise He repeats to all of us in Hebrews 13:5. Notice that He tells Joshua not to be afraid and not to be discouraged. Fear is one of the precursors to discontent. We get scared and start searching for a way out. Our fight or flight instincts kick in and we allow discontent to send us running in the wrong direction.
We also start feeling discontentment when we get discouraged. Discouragement can come from stagnation, lack of advancement at the pace we expect, setbacks, failures, and weariness from the fight. We’ve all been there. We focus on getting to the next phase of life, business, or relationships. We don’t see movement and we panic. We begin rushing forward, hustling, and pushing harder when God asks us to wait and trust.
And so discontentment causes us to get ahead of God. He’s supposed to go before us. But because we are not content with where we are, we decide to go first and hope He tags along. Do you see the danger? God is no longer leading the way. He’s no longer forging the path ahead of us. We are now in front where we are most vulnerable to attack.
The good news is that God doesn’t leave us. When we get ourselves in trouble, He’ll be there to help us get back on track. There may be repercussions and consequences, but God is able to redeem the situation. These are learning opportunities for us. This is where we learn the value of contentment.
Learning to be content changes our perspective on life. It teaches patience, trust, and submission to our King. When we learn to be content, we begin to understand that God is in control and we need to let Him stay in control. We accept that we don’t know the future, but God does. We rely on His provision, His leadership, and His wisdom.
Contentment eases our mental, emotional, and physical stress. Contentment allows God’s peace and joy to fill our hearts and minds. Contentment makes the waiting bearable and fills that time with expectation and excitement.
Let’s embrace the struggle of learning to be content.
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I want to follow Jesus! How do I get started?
“This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
1 John 4:13-15
If you are ready to join the family of God, simply believe and ask. You can choose your own words or pray the prayer below. God hears your heart, simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and let the Spirit lead you.
“Father, I want to be yours. Forgive me of my sins. I believe that you sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die in my place. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior and thank you for the gift of salvation through Him. I invite the Holy Spirit into my heart and surrender my life to You. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Feel free to spend time just talking to God and sharing your heart with Him. Let Him speak to you and listen as He leads you forward into new life. Welcome to the family.
Need to talk or have questions? Feel free to reach out and contact me.