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.
The world around us does not encourage contentedness. We are encouraged to want more and more and to have what we want when we want it. Years ago a fast food chain used the slogan “have it your way”. Now there is a commercial that declares “breakfast just the way I say”. My dad had a saying, “as a rule man’s a fool, when it’s hot he wants it cool. When it’s cool he wants it hot; always wanting what is not.”
This is so true. When it’s rainy we wish the sun was shining but too much sun makes us long for the cool rains to water our dry plants & flowers. Like watching fireworks in the rain, being content with what we are given is well outside the realm of our society. Honestly, it is difficult for me too.
This week’s verse was written by Paul from a prison cell. What an incredible relationship he must have had with the Lord to be able to be content even as a prisoner! Paul found a way to let the Lord work in and through him even when he was trapped in a prison where he had no control of his outside circumstances. But Paul did not allow his circumstances or the people around him to ‘get him down’ so to speak. There is no record that Paul campaigned to get out of prison (although I imagine he may have talked to God about this) but instead he did what he could and sought the Lord for how he could reach others in the midst of his circumstances.
I spent years feeling like a prisoner as a single adult without an earthly spouse with whom to share the fears, desires, joys and accomplishments of my life. As I sought God in the midst of my unwanted circumstances He reminded me that being single is not a sentence. In fact, being married to a spouse apart from God’s will for our lives would be a life-long sentence brought on by our own selfishness and stubbornness. God has promised He will be enough, even in the darkness and fear. While I still desire an earthly mate I realize that marriage was never intended to take the place of God’s relationship with us and it isn’t something God owes us just because we think we want it.
Do you have times when you feel like a prisoner, trapped in your life and circumstances?
When we feel this way God wants us to remember what it means to be content.
Being content is to be satisfied, comfortable, even pleased with the circumstances we find ourselves in.
It is not pleasing to God when we whine about what we don’t have, or what we believe we need to make life complete.
It does not mean that God doesn’t want us to pray about getting out of unwanted circumstances, yet at the same time we should not dwell on a future desire but learn to live for Him where we are at.
After all, who are we to tell the God of all creation that we know better than He does what is best for our lives?
God is so gracious to be patient with us when we slip into those times of egotism and self-pity. Let us look with anticipation toward the day when we can stand with Paul and truly be content, knowing that we too can do all things through the strength of our incredible God.
Wishing you blessings and peace…and contentedness in your life today.