Philippians 4:11-13 says, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
God has been bringing me back to this verse a lot lately. I know I haven't been as content as normal and that is okay. I used to think something was wrong with me when I wasn't completely happy at all times. I would put myself down and let myself believe that I was just not a good Christian. Paul wrote this passage of scripture under the influence of God and starts by saying, "for I have learned (verse 11)." This means that he wasn't always perfectly content and had to learn how to be content in all seasons. If you read through the book of Acts, then you will quickly realize that Paul endured a lot of pain and hardship in his lifetime. He went from persecuting Christians to becoming a Christian on the way to Damascus one day when God changed his life (Acts 26:12-18). He was beaten, arrested, laughed at and talks about a "thorn in his flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7). Although we don't know exactly what the thorn in his flesh was, we know that it was something that plagued him as he says in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
Paul was very familiar with pain and suffering in his life, yet he was content. I am sure it took time to grow a heart that was content in all seasons of triumph and trial but he got there.
The definition of the word "content" states, "In a state of peaceful happiness and satisfied with what one has and not wanting more."
Paul was content with what he had and where he was even when life was really hard on him.
Christ calls us to be content even when life is excruciatingly painful.
Why? Does God not care that life gets hard? Of course He cares and He knows how hard life can be. Yet He calls us to rest in Him and let Him create a content heart in us.
With Jesus in our heart we can rest assured that our ending is a happy one. Heaven is my, and hopefully your, final destination. There is still a life on earth to be lived though and contentment starts with having Christ in your heart. I know that when life gets dark and flat-out depressing; contentment is not the first word in our vocabulary. As Paul asked God to remove the "thorn in his flesh", I am reminded of how quickly I want troubles to end in my life. A rough season begins and we quickly beg God to take us to the next season of our lives.
I am convinced that a truly content heart is developed through the worst seasons of our lives.
We endure heartbreak, loss, suffering and despair as we live in a fallen world full of sin. If we focus on what we don't have then we lose our contentment. Personally, I have been struggling with contentment in my life. This particular rough patch I am going through has shown me that my content, a lot of times, is based off of the current happenings in my life. When everything is going the way that I feel it should go; I am content. I have forgotten that contentment comes from God. Even when life is rough and things are not going as planned, we can live with a content heart that is plugged into God.
Contentment can't solely be based off of what is going on in our lives or we would never be content. It doesn't always feel the best to be content in our lives while pain and sin and despair are all real; but we can still be at peace with God and content with what He is doing even when it doesn't feel good.
When our life feels like it is falling apart; we can rest content in Christ.
When our marriage is struggling and the connection is off; we can rest content in Christ.
When we lose someone we love; we can rest content in Christ.
When our job is gone; we can rest content in Christ.
When our child or loved one has gone astray; we can rest content in Christ.
When we are physically sick and suffering; we can rest content in Christ.
When we are depressed, anxious and struggling; we can rest content in Christ.
When life is just plain difficult; we can rest content in Christ.
I tend to write about what I am struggling with and learning through the season. I needed this reminder today and hopefully you did too! Hold fast to Philippians 4, my friend! Praying for you, always!