While at the store, I watched a parent respond to a child’s request. The child said, “I want it, and I want it now.” To which the parent said, “Not right now, be content with what you have.”
In one way or another, most of us can relate to this desire. Contentment is an illusive commodity today. In fact, there’s this deliberate effort in our culture today that tries to make us feel dissatisfied with life by making us believe we’re not significant if we don’t posses the best or the newest. Yet wanting something more isn’t always a bad thing. The problem comes when our desires are never satisfied, and we’re no longer able to fully enjoy life because we always feel like we’re lacking something.
The word of God sets the standard for contentment. Godly contentment is a state of satisfaction that’s anchored in our confidence found in the Lord, one that produces a joyful celebration of life every day.
When Paul wrote to the church in Philipi in Philippians 4:11-12, he said: “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” His contentment was anchored not in circumstances or in having something. His contentment was anchored in personally knowing God was for him and with him in all that he faced.
I believe each person wants to have a content life. Contentment is something we learn — it doesn’t come naturally. Contentment isn’t about possessions or circumstances. Contentment comes in our lives when we grow spiritually and learn to appreciate all we have in Christ. It begins to grow when we come to understand our greatest treasure is our relationship with the Savior. Discontentment comes from feeling we have been deprived. But when we understand what we truly “deserve” and compare it to what we have received in Christ, we’re able to say nothing else matters other than having Christ. Our contentment is anchored in relationship. We’re encouraged by Paul to know we can face and know joy in any and every circumstance because of the strength we find in Christ, so we must purpose to abide in him.
I have also learned we can find contentment in the grace of God, in the providence of God, and in the promises of God. It’s only when I have realized the value of God’s grace in my life I begin to also find contentment. We draw our sense of satisfaction from the providence of God. Our comfort comes from the truth God is in charge. He’s overseeing the events of our life and using them to deepen and develop us. We can have contentment in the good and the bad, the easy and the hard, the enjoyable and the painful times of life because we trust the one who guides the circumstances in our life.
Paul believed God was using and building him in the hard times and putting him in a position to bless others in the good times. We find contentment in the fact God has promised he would take care of us. No matter what the circumstances of life, the promises hold. He will protect. He will defend. He will guide, and he will strengthen all who follow him.
Do you want to know contentment? Then be present, in the present moments of life. Don’t focus on what might have been or what could be. Enjoy today. And understand material things are just tools to help, not an end in themselves.
Contentment comes as we grow in our love for God each day. Do you really want to know contentment? Then run straight into the arms of Jesus. Receive his grace, believe his promises and trust his providence in your life. And as you turn your eyes upon Jesus, you‘ll find “that the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” And when that happens, you‘ll begin to enjoy all the moments of your life.
Leave the worries about tomorrow with the Lord and accept every situation as God’s wise classroom for your growth and transformation. When this happens you will find in good times or bad, pleasant or painful, you will find contentment.
Nick Emery is the senior pastor at Good Shepherd Wesleyan Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.