Have you ever wished for things to be different? That something or someone would change? The apostle Paul surely could have felt that way . . . being stuck in prison when he had been out travelling and evangelizing the known world.
Yet Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Philippians 4:11-12, NASB).
How does that happen?
Paul shows us in the verses that follow:
God helps us to be content
Immediately after he talks about being content, he says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NASB). A friend recently pointed this out to me: The idea of contentment is followed by a stated reliance on the empowerment of God to be content. God enables us to be content. We must ask Him to help us live in a state of contentment.
The world pulls at us constantly, trying to make us focus on our unmet hopes, our disappointments, our lack of one thing or another. The Lord whispers, “Be content. Ask Me to help you to find satisfaction in life, and I will.”
Additional verses in Philippians 4 reveal how the Lord develops contentment in us.
God promises to meet all our needs
Verse 19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus” (NASB). Paul had experienced this truth, so he proclaimed it boldly: God takes care of His own. The riches of heaven are available to us through our relationship with Jesus. We are called to believe this truth and to open our hands to receive what God deems is best for us.
Our Father knows what’s best. In Psalm 139, He tells us He knows everything about us (verses 1-6), He is always with us (verses 7-12), He created and sustains us (verses 13-16), He thinks about us constantly (verses 17-18), He handles our enemies (verses 19-22), and He looks into the depths of our hearts and helps us to grow in Him (verses 23-24).
He promises to take care of us and to move in our lives to accomplish His purposes. He promises to love us forever, with His covenant, steadfast, and merciful love (Psalm 138:8).
God is able to keep every one of His promises, because He is God. He backs up His promises with who He is. Sometimes, He meets our needs in unexpected ways, but His ways are higher (better) than ours (what we imagine or think is best) (Isaiah 55:9).
God reminds us to keep our focus on Him
Paul says, “To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Philippians 4:20, NASB). Somewhere in his prison cell, sometime during his confinement, Paul learned that his greatest treasure was the Lord Himself. As he sought the Lord’s presence each day, as he meditated on His promises, as he recalled his history with Him, as he remembered who He was, Paul focused on the great wealth found in his relationship with Jesus. He was content, overjoyed, that he would possess that prize for all eternity.
When we look to the Lord, we cannot help but praise Him. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we find contentment.
Question: How has the Lord strengthened you to be content? Comment at the link below.