Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:11-13
Contentment is found in Christ. Paul learnt this whilst on his travels sharing the Gospel to whoever would listen and believe. He had been through so much for the sake of sharing the Good News. He had been beaten and imprisoned several times. Whilst in prison, he sat in chains. It was nothing like our prisons today where they have exercise rooms, libraries, television, and three-square meals a day. Paul was fortunate to get a meal in prison.
As Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians, he explained that he was content. He didn’t want for much or need stuff. He had nothing but Christ. Christ was his strength.
How many of us can say that today? Can we honestly say we are content with who we are or what we have?
Since being ill, I’ve lost being able to work, go out with friends and family whenever I’d like, the ability to fully dress by myself, walk more than 10 metres and much more. Life has changed dramatically for me. I used to love to hike, take my kids out walking in nature, going to the beach, putting my toes in the sand and in the water. I enjoyed lying out in the garden, soaking up the sun. I enjoyed ministry, especially with children and those with special needs.
Sadly, whilst I was active and well, I took all of these things for granted. I wasn’t content. I was grateful, but not content. I always wanted things to be better. I always wanted more.
I wanted to be…
A better wife.
A better mum.
A better minister.
I never thought what I did was ever enough.
I wanted more…
People to minister to.
Time to do the things I enjoyed.
Money for ministry and for personal things to do.
Sadly, I even complained about how things should be better.
However, in the past 5-6 years, God has been teaching me a lot about being appreciative of what I have, especially having Christ as my Lord and Saviour. I have learnt first-hand how Christ is my daily strength, that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Though I have lost my independence and abilities to do many things, God has opened other doors of ministry and activities (lots of crafting) for me.
I am still on a major learning curve. I still struggle from time to time being content with what God has blessed me. I continue to rely on him and seek his face for each day and the future.
Some of us have lost everything we used to know. Maybe it’s due to illness, a loss of a job, a divorce, loss of a spouse or child, or something else. Yes, there is great grief over what we have lost. We have to process through that grief and then move forward. We can be assured that Christ is with us. He is our strength and he will carry us through.
Instead of desiring more earthly things, we need to be desiring Christ and eternal things. A great question my husband asked me when we were dating, “Is it eternal?” When we find ourselves not content, we need to ask ourselves “Is this eternal?” If it is not, then we need to give it to the Lord and ask him to enable us to be content with what we have.
Can we say with Paul, we are content despite everything we have lost or been through?
Can we say we are content even if we have everything most of the world dream of having?
For Paul, contentment was found in Christ. He realised that Christ was worth living for. Christ gives us eternal life. Christ gives us strength. Christ is our contentment.
Prayer: Father, I admit many times I am not content with what I have or with who I am. Either I am not happy with all that I have, or I am not happy that I have lost everything. There needs to be balanced in my life. I desire to be like Paul and be content no matter what. May my heart not be focused on earthly things but on eternal things. Jesus is eternal. Jesus is my strength. He is my daily strength. He enables me to do things in that strength. May I be content in you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.