Written by: Dawn Stewart
If I’m honest with you, I’m writing this from a place of feeling really dissatisfied – emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. I don’t like this place I am in at all. Every area of my life feels difficult. Like I’m carrying a backpack of rocks, a weight too much for me to bear, and it does not feel good, at all.
So, here I am feeling this way and also meditating on Paul’s words:
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13 NIV
It has always interested me how God speaks through His Word. The truth stands true always, but sometimes certain words or phrases grab my attention in a certain time of need. Tonight was one of those times.
Paul did not say he learned the secret of feeling content. He said, “I have learned the secret of being content.”
Like we learned in the last post, contentment is actually not a feeling, but rather a state of being. Paul learned the secret of being content regardless of his circumstances or how he felt. He said he could be in need, or have everything he needed, and be content in both situations. Great, but how?
Contentment starts with focus. Where is your focus? Is it on the ever shifting and changing circumstances of our lives? Is our focus constantly on our emotional state? Is our focus on the storms in our life?
When I look at Philippians chapter 4, as a whole – I get a glimpse into how Paul was thinking – where his focus was:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9 NIV
I think it is fair to say that Paul was not incredibly concerned with his circumstances. It appears that his focus was on rejoicing in who God is, bringing his needs before Him in prayer, thanking Him for all He has done, resting in His peace, and meditating on His goodness. That seems like a pretty good recipe for contentment to me.
So, even as I write this, I am convicted. My feeling of discontentment has very little to do with the difficult circumstances or shifting emotions going on in my life right now. It has everything to do with my focus.
I have been very focused on how I feel and on what is happening around me, rather than on God and His goodness. As a result of meditating on the “secret” to contentment, I am choosing to change my focus.
Instead of focusing inwardly on how I think, feel, or on what is happening around me, I am going to follow Paul’s suggestions:
- Rejoice in the Lord.
- Pray about all my needs.
- Thank the Lord for all He has done.
- Rest in His Peace.
- Meditate on His goodness.
I love when the Lord weaves His Word into the very fabric of my heart. And this was a very timely word, indeed.