“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.” Phil. 4:12
As we come to the precipice of a new year, I often think of a section of one of Paul’s inspired letters. He speaks to us through the Bible that he had “…learned to be content whatever the circumstance.” (Phil. 4:11).
We are closer to that New Year we spoke of in the last article. And this process of “learning to be content” does not come to us any easier. In this article we are going to give our attention to “learning” to be content and in “any and every situation” being content.
What are your circumstances right now in life? In what ways are you happy, joyful… content? Does this contentment come with “things going well”, “people with smiles,” “bills being paid,” “kids doing well in school.” How do we handle life and situations when these are of our lives are not “going well?” This is the time of life that Paul refers to… when life is not “going as planned.” Paul said that this is what, by God’s classroom, he learned by God’s grace.
Job learned this as God allowed Satan to challenge his family, his finances, his marriage and his health. You may ask, “What else is there?” Well, there was the most important aspect of a person’s life… his relationship with God. Job held fast, even in the midst of tragedy and loss, to his relationship and trust in God. He had questions and frustrations; but he continued to trust in God.
David, as he ran from Saul who was trying to kill him, continued to find contentedness and calmness with God (1 Sam 22:7-17). Saul was deeply angry and resentful with David’s success and his covenant with Jonathan and allowed that resentment to full hatred. David had a number of opportunities to kill Saul, but chose to trust in God first (1 Sam 26:8,9). No doubt, David learned contentedness to God’s will and timing and not taking it into his own hands.
John the apostle learned contentedness after years of faithful service to God. He was committed to the island of Patmos for his faithfulness to the cause of Christ. And instead of finding himself angry and bitter, he allowed himself to continue to be used by God and write, through inspiration, the book of Revelation. John had learned, over years of experiences with God, to be content “whatever the circumstance.”
What circumstances are you in your life that could cause unrest, frustration or even bitterness? May we replicate Paul’s mindset of “learning to be content”; of learning to trust God, to walk with him and lean on his perfect will. May we learn from David and John and allow God to use us in His plan. Notice that the term “learning” is in constant motion. This is not like learning 2+4=6 and you’re done. This is in constant motion. It is human nature to learn a thing and then get lazy and stop. However, to learn “to be content in any and every circumstance” is a continue process. God provides situations and opportunities in our lives for us to learn this blessed and graceful mindset.
What situations and circumstances do you need to recalculate your mind and see God’s hand working in your life to teach contentedness? What circumstances are causing you aggravation, but could provide a blessing of contentedness?
May God be praised for teaching us… and may we be patient in learning.
By Andy Burns