“For I have learned in whatever situation to be content…in any and every circumstance.’ (Philippians 4:11)
When Paul wrote those words he was not sitting on a beach sipping a cocktail somewhere, but in prison; yet he was still able to say, “I’ve learnt how to be content.” The world’s way of thinking teaches that the way to achieve peace in our life is to get out of difficult situations as quickly as possible, and that the more possessions and status we have the better; or on the flip side is the mentality of “simplicity living” which states that satisfaction comes from getting rid of stuff and living with less. Yet Paul said he had learnt to be content in both plenty and hunger, in abundance and need. While the bible does say not to make the pursuit of earthy goods our aim in life, a simpler lifestyle alone does not guarantee a contented life.
Perhaps instead we should be seeking balance and to give ourselves time and space to reflect and pray more about what is really important to us, and the life that God is calling us to live. Discontentment is our heart being dissatisfied – so what is it dissatisfied about? Are we focusing on the things God want us to focus on; living the lifestyle that He talks about in His word? Are we being who He called us to be? Are we following in His ways, giving and looking for ways to bless and help others, or are we only paying attention to ourselves?
I’ve discovered that God will actually allow us to become uncomfortable and discontented as a catalyst for change, so it pays to listen and take notice of what is stirring in our hearts so we don’t miss God talking to us.
For when we fail to get quiet and to listen to God speaking to our hearts what usually happens is we keep doing the same things day in and day out, yet failing to see that the reasons we are feeling so frustrated and discontented with our life are the exact issues God wants to deal within us and to possibly change.
God is the one Paul said had brought him contentment, and it was in discovering and being the man that God had made him to be that brought him peace. Paul found contentment in God’s presence and in knowing Him; He found contentment in fulfilling the purpose God had for him in the season he was in – being where he was meant to be, doing what he was made to do. Paul discovered Jesus, the one who made him who he was, and that even when it was a struggle he could live at peace because he knew God loved Him and had a plan, and that nothing could separate Him from His love. This enabled Paul to be fully content preaching to multitudes, or sitting in chains in a prison cell writing letters of encouragement.
Wherever Paul was and whatever he was doing he had learnt to make Jesus his number one priority and he’d chosen to focus on what God had for Him to do and be in that time frame. That is why he could say I have learnt to be content in all circumstances, for Jesus is the one who gives me strength, and makes me who I am. (Philippians 4:10-13)
Today take a moment to schedule in some time with God to reflect and pray so that you can hear Him speaking to your heart. Remember at times God does allow us to be discontented and uncomfortable as a catalyst for change. Is your discontentment actually God orchestrated, and is He trying to catch your attention so that He can speak and lead you to make some needed changes in your life?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-6)
“I will listen to what God the Lord says: he promises peace to his people.” (Psalm 85:8)
Prayer: Lord help me to hear you speaking to me, and that if I am feeling discontentment that I will not just brush these feelings aside, but will stop, reflect and listen to what you are saying to me. Help me to find contentment in knowing you, and being and doing what you have called me to. In Jesus Name Amen.