February 8, 2012

Learning to be Content
Anna Kuta, Crosswalk.com Editor

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).

I am not a patient person. I admit it. Whether I’m stuck behind a slow driver on a one-lane road, counting down the hours to a particular event, or realizing that something I’ve been looking forward to has been postponed, waiting has never been something easy for me.

Wishing for the future is also something I’ve often struggled with. Whether counting down to high school graduation, the start of college, college graduation or my first job, it seemed at the time like each of those things could not come fast enough. It isn’t until looking back that I realize in each of those seasons of life God was teaching me things and using me for a particular purpose right where I was. That’s not to say I don’t still struggle with the “grass is greener” syndrome, though. I’ve been out of college for nine months now and gotten settled into my job, but these days, especially as Valentine’s Day rolls around, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get discouraged by being a single girl sometimes.

But look at what Paul says in Philippians 4:11. He says he has learned to be content in any situation – “everywhere and in all things.” The Greek word for “content” here literally means “independent of others, having sufficiency in one’s self” – but Paul is referring to one’s new self in Christ, because only God can teach the ability to be content. Paul says he has learned to be content in the good and the bad, in the times of abundance and the times of want, because he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. I think the key word here is that Paul learned, and it’s possible for us to learn as well. Being content does not necessarily mean being resigned to the fact that you might not get what you want; it means being willing to let God teach you and work through you wherever you are at the moment.

When I start to get impatient or start wishing some area of my life would just hurry up, I remind myself what the Lord says in Jeremiah 29:11, that he has a plan and purpose for those who follow Him. As Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” God’s timetables are not necessarily ours, but there are lessons He wants to teach us in each season of life. For me, it means growing closer to the Lord during the single years of my 20s and using this time to serve Him to the fullest wherever He needs me. With His help, I’m learning to be content, and you can learn too. Don’t be so busy wishing for a different situation that you miss what Jesus has in store for you right here and now – lean on the strength of God and let Him teach you what it means to be content in all things.

Intersecting Faith & Life

Have there been times in your life when you didn’t realize what God was teaching you until you looked back? How can God use you in your current situation? Wherever you are now, remember that God has a purpose and a plan for this season. Through Christ who gives us strength, we can do all things, and that includes learning to be content.

Further Reading

Philippians 4:19

Psalm 27:14

Psalm 37:3-5

Isaiah 40:31