Contentment: It’s Not a Feeling


Written by: Kensie Story

A friend of mine once asked me this question: If you were left with nothing but yourself and God, would it be enough? Would you be content?

My gut twisted. I knew my answer at the time was no. I so badly wanted to say yes, but I knew deep down inside that my heart desired the tangible – things felt, things seen – and well, sometimes God isn’t very tangible.

Sometimes He seems distant or even non-existent. Sometimes we meet darkness in our life and God’s light just doesn’t seem bright enough. Sometimes no matter how hard I pray, joy and peace never come and all I feel is defeat.

So, how then do we follow Paul’s example and stay “content in whatever circumstance” even when we don’t feel it?

“I am not saying this because I am in need. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without.” (Philippians 4:11-12 VOICE)

I think the façade I believed was that contentment is a feeling. That contentment means we always like it and are always happy. That contentment means we’re never questioning or doubting. That contentment means nothing bothers us – not death, not loss, not sickness – and we live in this Pollyanna-like state, skipping through life with a smile no matter what.

How silly.

In Philippians 4:11, the Greek word for content means “being satisfied because [of] living in God’s fullness” (HELPS Word-Studies). It doesn’t say anything about happiness. It doesn’t say anything about being unbothered. Contentment is not a feeling; it is simply being satisfied with who God is and what He has promised.

We don’t have to like the situation we are in. We can mourn loss; we can be frustrated with people; we can wish things were different and still be content. In fact, the more we get to know God and understand His perfect will, the more unsatisfying our earthly lives are.

When we become followers of Christ our hope becomes fixated on the eternal. We know the promises of God that are to come, so our broken lives and broken situations just don’t measure up. They never satisfy our souls and they weren’t meant to.

Paul himself wished to be done with this world and be with Christ (see Philippians 1:23) because he knew that being with Christ was better than anything this world could offer. But while we are still on earth, we are content knowing what is to come and we shine a light for others in hopes that they may be content too.

“For to me, living means opportunities for Christ, and dying—well, that’s better yet! But if living will give me more opportunities to win people to Christ, then I really don’t know which is better, to live or die!” (Philippians 1:21-22 TLB)

If my friend were to ask me the same question today my answer would be yes because I would understand that regardless of my feelings, God is enough for me to be content. I may not always feel content – in fact, most of the time I won’t – but I can always choose contentment because of who God is and what He has promised.

“…fix your hope on God, the One who richly provides everything…” (1 Timothy 6:17 VOICE)

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