I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. – Philippians 4:11
This is a scripture that has been posted on my desk for several years. I placed it there during a difficult time as a reminder that I should be content whatever the circumstances. And even though I have read that scripture at least once a week during that time period, only recently did I comprehend what this scripture truly means. Being content doesn’t mean that I am settling for something, but instead that my focus is in the right place. My focus had been on the circumstances, but the secret is learning to trust God regardless of the circumstances.
True contentment has nothing to do with material possessions, status, or even a deliverance from problems. In verse 12 Paul says, “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.” Paul had experienced both ends of the spectrum…being in need and having plenty, but he was able to be content in everything.
The key is that he learned to be content. It didn’t happen overnight, but the ups and downs of life taught Paul that satisfaction is not based on what we have or don’t have, but instead true contentment is based on a trust that Christ will provide the strength to get through the tough times. Paul goes on in verse 13 to say, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” He learned to depend on Christ for contentment.
Regardless of the circumstances we face, we can trust that Christ will give us strength to get through it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t come naturally. It is something we must learn just as Paul learned. So how do we learn to be content?
- Refuse to compare your circumstance to anyone else. When you compare your life to others, yours will usually seem inadequate because you have no knowledge of their struggles. Someone else’s home may be newer and bigger, but you don’t see the difficulty they may have making the mortgage payment.
- Accept your imperfections as well as those of others. You will make mistakes. None of us are perfect. Accept others the way God created them rather than the way you want them to be.
- Accept things as they are. Surrender your expectations to God. Instead of focusing on what YOU want, focus on what God wants you to have.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Write down something every day for which you are grateful. The more you search for good in the midst of trial, the less hopeless the problem will seem.
- Be thankful for what you have. Don’t take anything or anyone in your life for granted. “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:8
By Author Unknown
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those
who are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.
This poem reminds us to appreciate even the difficulties. The more we dwell on the problems, the worse our situation seems. But the more we search for good, the more blessings we can find even in the midst of trials. When things aren’t going exactly as we had planned, we must check our focus. Are we focusing on the circumstance or is our focus on God?
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” When you are able to admit that you don’t like your situation, but you can trust God through it, you’ve learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Being content leads to joy no matter what’s going on in life. Dare to be content where you are!