The Apostle Paul wrote the church in Philippi that he learned to be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13). Whether he faced poverty or plenty, persecution or peace, Paul knew the “secret” of living a fulfilled life. Simply put, Paul wrote, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
When I think about finding contentment, I quickly move to the realm of what I lack rather than what I possess. Quite often I fail to recognize that the reason I struggle with contentment is because I focus on what I don’t have rather than on what I do have. Am I content with food, clothing, and shelter, or do I think I need to have an over-abundance of resources in order to discover contentment? It never works that way, though, does it? Do we ever think we have more than enough? We tend to compare ourselves not with people who have less, but with people who have more.
The exhortation from the Apostle Paul is that our contentment comes in Christ who strengthens us whether we have little or much. Spurgeon was right when he wrote, “Christians disgrace their Lord far more in prosperity than in adversity. It is dangerous to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is not as severe a trial as the gold pot of prosperity.”
It’s difficult to find contentment when we have too little. But it’s equally demanding to find contentment when we have too much. Are we satisfied with what we have? How much is too much, really? The words of Agur son of Jakeh challenge us with this simple prayer: “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, `Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8b-9). To quote Spurgeon once again: “When we are full and forget God, we become satisfied with earth and forget heaven.”
Our Lord never promised that following Him would be easy. We will face trials and hardship, and we might even find ourselves tempted to trust in things, possessions, programs, and even people more than Jesus. Does our contentment come from anything other than Jesus? No. The power for us to discover contentment, peace and joy originates from no other source than Jesus. Everything else pales in comparison to His light that floods our soul and buoys our spirit. When all else fades away, He alone is left standing before and behind, hemming us in on all sides, guiding us through life’s challenges into heaven’s glory. And that, my friends, is all we need to be content.