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. (Philippians 4:11-13)
I can do all things through Him who gives me strength!
I believe this. I know this. I trust this. Yet, I have not yet learned to be content in all circumstances as Paul did. I’m working on it, and I have moments, but I am still far from contentment in ALL circumstances.
I do have moments of pure contentment and they are very sweet. When my thoughts stay focused on my blessings and the things that truly matter I can’t help but feel content. I treasure my husband of 18 years and we are very much in love. We have 2 amazing boys who are becoming strong young men of integrity and most importantly they love the Lord. We are healthy, we are together, and we are happy. We are abundantly blessed and I would not change a single detail. When I focus on these blessings, I feel nothing but glorious contentment and joy.
Unfortunately, I don’t dwell there. I give in to thoughts of discontent and dissatisfaction about insignificant things that do not matter and I begin thinking about what we don’t have. I start obsessing about needing something new, wondering what might be better, or how to fix or improve what we have. I start projects around the house with good intentions only to become distracted by another project that must be done and done right now. This leads to a trail of unfinished projects and wastefulness. And it is all just stuff. Our so called “treasures” where “moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19)
We have countless books and homeschool curriculums lining our shelves, un-touched and un-read; boxes of pictures waiting for their special place in a frame or scrapbook; craft boxes full of fun and unusual creations waiting to be made; rooms only half decorated or not decorated at all; even moving boxes yet to be unpacked despite the fact we have been in our home for 10 months—all unfinished simply because another idea came to mind that “needed” my attention and screamed to be started.
So what’s the difference between the contented moments and the chaos? How do I end this cycle of discontent and unfinished projects?
· First, I must let Christ take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and allow Him to prioritize my thoughts, my plans, and my activities. I must stop before allowing myself to become consumed with an idea and ask Him, “Is this Your plan for me?” If yes, then I can trust Him to lead and guide me. If no, then I will have His help in bringing me peace and re-directing my thoughts.
· I must learn to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). I have the power that raised Christ from the dead living in me, the Spirit of the One True God, the Creator, the Almighty. He made me and I can trust Him to take care of me and my needs!
· I must learn, as Paul did, that “I can do ALL things in Christ” but I don’t have to do them all at once! I am called to do all things to the best of my ability, as working for the Lord, not men (Colossians 3:23) and If I am to do my best to God’s glory, I can’t do everything.
· Thankfulness. This is huge! I cannot be unhappy or discontent if I am literally counting my blessings and grateful for each one.
· The biggest difference? Where I choose to focus my thoughts. If I am focused on Christ, on loving Him and loving others, then I feel complete contentment. When my thoughts drift downward off Christ and selfishly onto myself, I become selfish and consumed with selfish things.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:6-8)
Father, You have given us every good and perfect gift, more than we need or could ask for. You offer the gift of eternal life, unsurpassed joy and peace beyond what we can comprehend even in the most painful circumstances. Thank You for teaching us how to find true contentment in living out these simple truths. Please strengthen us to put them to use daily and stay focused on You! In the name of Jesus, AMEN.