Monday, June 26, 2017

Learning to be Content

When you think of Philippians Chapter 4, what is the first verse that comes to mind? For me, and probably most of you, 4:13 is the one that most people out there know. They know it by heart. It states:
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"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength".

Another version states:
" I can do all this through him who gives me strength".

In a lot of instances, we use this verse to help us get through a tough situation, a troubling event we're facing, or for me, getting me through something I'm extremely nervous about. (for example speaking in front of others).

However, have you ever taken time to read the verses right above this passage? I know I really hadn't paid attention to them until recently. My Pastor gave a sermon a while back on them and then they popped up again recently in my bible reading.

This is what they say:

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength"

What do you think of when you hear the word "content"? What does it mean to you?

It's defined as:
"in a state of peaceful happiness, a state of satisfaction, satisfied with a certain level of achievement, good fortune, etc., and not wishing for more" (Credit)

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So, let's think about that. Paul was writing this after suffering beatings and imprisonment for his belief in Christ and sharing the Gospel. While writing this letter to the Philippians, he was in prison facing a future that was not certain. He was sharing that he's learned to be content with all things because of the strength of God that flows through him and lives in him. He had learned to see opportunities to share the Gospel everywhere he was, even in prison.

This kind of contentment comes from knowing that God's got this all under control. The fact that He knows what your situation is, He cares for what you're going through, and He's got a plan in place to get you through it. Sometimes it's very hard to see that. Sometimes it's difficult to face the day, the week, the month ahead and know that you're not sure where this is going. There are things that come our way that we wonder, why in the world is this happening? What is this trying to teach me? God wants us to rely on Him and understand that the Joy of the Lord, the contentment in all situations, comes through His strength.

We can't do this on our own. We're human and we face struggles everyday to be happy in a place where happiness may be hard to find. Being content doesn't necessarily mean you're jumping for joy. Being content means you are satisfied knowing that God has this situation under control. You can be content and joyful without jumping for joy. It doesn't always mean smiles and excited laughter. Contentment means you're resting in the peace that passes all understanding. You know that God's got this and you know He's going to take care of that situation.

We may never know this side of heaven why things happen. We may never know the reach our experiences have to others. But we can know this. We can be content in the fact that Christ is our strength, our refuge, our shelter in times of trouble. He's our hope, our future, and our everything.

I personally am still working on this. I'm still working to be fully content in knowing that God's got it all under control. I sometimes try to take things into my own hands and that doesn't work out so well. God's still working on me and I pray that I can learn this full contentment through good times and bad times.

What does contentment mean to you?

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