Finding True Contentment

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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.” Philippians 4:12 (NIV) 

This passage of scripture is written by a prisoner and an apostle of Jesus Christ.  Paul had learned a secret that each and every Christian ought to grasp; the secret of being content in any and every situation of life.  Consider being in a cold dark prison cell for a moment.  The comforts of home are not provided nor are the home cooked meals, nor the nice cozy bed that you used to sleep in…it’s all gone.  You are locked in a cell of stone and metal where rats are constantly running over you and the floor is your only resting place.  This image of being in prison isn’t a glorious one.  It is stark, threatening and claustrophobic…how can Paul even proclaim to being content while locked away in a prison cell?

Contentment ultimately isn’t found in our surroundings or comforts.  Sure at times we sit back and sigh and take in the moments of relaxation or familial enjoyments but eventually our contentment will evaporate.  True lasting contentment isn’t found in things, people or places.  We may experience momentary contentment but eventually our hearts, minds and bodies require more.

So how do we find, as Paul once did in a prison cell, this “secret of being content in any and every situation“?  How does that happen?  Is there a secret phrase we have to utter and then “poof” we are content?  Is there some formula by which we consume in order to find contentment?  The answer to both of those questions is “no”.  There is nothing physical that we can do in order to achieve a lasting presence of contentment within us.  You see, all of our efforts, which are man made, come from our own human portions of strength and wisdom.  Our attempts to remain content are of our own making.  These are external by design.  For example, if we grow tired of our morning routine we might shake things up a little bit by taking a different route to work or formulate a different pattern of getting our children ready for school…these are externally our choices and strengths at play.  We make the notion and we follow through with it in our own strength, thereby finding a jolt of contentment within old boring routines of life.

But there is another, better way to find complete and lasting contentment that I believe the Apostle Paul is talking about in this portion of Philippians.  The secret to lasting contentment isn’t found in the external designs which are propelled by our own power and fortitude, the lasting contentment is found internally.  Let me clarify though because this internal contentment isn’t an original part of our human DNA (that is post-fall of man).  At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us.  He prompts us, strengths us, gives us this hunger to learn more about Him.  This indwelling of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to become Holy people of God.  Without this internal indwelling we cannot hold onto this grace that has been given to us through Jesus Christ.

Finding contentment is found in finding our source and hope of salvation.  Once found, we feast on Him, we savor His fellowship, we thrive on His unending love and mercy and it becomes our focal point instead of the current location of our earthly bodies.  This doesn’t mean that we neglect our earthly responsibilities or ignore our bodies but it does mean that our priorities and our perception of life becomes broader as the Holy Spirit stretches and renew us daily in our fellowship with Him.  I believe Paul found this to be true.  I believe that as His relationship with the Holy Spirit grew and he understood that it didn’t matter any longer if he had all of the comforts of life or none of them.  It didn’t matter any longer if he achieved a certain portion of status in life.  Those human achievements became an after thought as God’s Holy mission on his life took over and propelled to share and further Christ’s story.  Paul understood that no matter where people placed him or where he was imprisoned God would use Him to share this vital message to the world!

Are you in a place right now that feels like a prison?  Are you finding that your human contentment has run thin or has now completely evaporated?  We can run from one thing to another chasing these fickle moments of contentment through job titles and achievements, but eventually we will find that none of it makes us happy any longer.  We could keep running from place to place, from job to job, or we could allow the Holy Spirit to administer within us His Holy presence of contentment.  By doing so we shift our focal point from human achievements and prestige to God’s perspectives which are always fulfilling.  The journey to Holy contentment begins through discipline of the body soul and mind.  This isn’t some kind of new age mumbo-jumbo, but rather a better way, a holy way that will lead us to contentment no matter where we are placed or end up.

Are you in need of contentment?  Ask the Lord, begin there…feast on Him daily and slowly you will begin to find His perspectives and vision bringing a contentment like you’ve never experienced before.

I’m reminded of a chorus in closing:

Where He leads me, I will follow
Where He leads me, I will follow
Where He leads me, I will follow
I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way

Find real lasting contentment today!

contentment

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