by Charles R. Swindoll
Release the idea that contentment requires comfort. Contentment is possible no matter how dire your circumstances. While under house arrest, Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13). There it is again. Did you see it? The secret to Paul’s contentment was knowing Christ’s strength was perfected in his weakness. He really got it . . . and what a liberating concept it became!
Suffering is a delicate subject. It’s not easy to address because I realize I’m writing to people who have known a depth of suffering to which I have never gone. In no way do I wish to give the impression that I am a model of how to go through it. To be honest with you, I fail in my responses to adversity more than I succeed. It’s a lot easier to write a chapter on it than it is to model those things that look good in print. Along with the occasional pity parties I throw for myself, my heart is occasionally broken, and my spirit takes a tumble. So if that is your experience today, I can identify with that.
My desire is for you and me, together, to claim grace and cultivate grit in the midst of our suffering—like Paul. And in the process to wean ourselves from the rabid pursuit of happiness so prevalent in our culture. Happiness is a byproduct of contentment. Once Paul discovered that, he lived it. I’m not fully there yet. Most likely, neither are you. And so, we press on together, growing and learning, reminding ourselves that He must increase, and we must decrease.
Next time you hear a knock at the back door, before you open it, repeat these words to yourself: “His grace is sufficient for me.”
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.