The Strange, wonderful place of contentment

Contentment

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 4:12,13

I was sitting here trying to find a story about how I wasn’t content with something, but honestly, there’s so many! I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and still have a hat from years ago. But that’s not good enough. I buy a new one every year. Every. Year. In one season of my life, I wanted to be an illustrator, so I bought all the materials I would need to express my creativity. Do you know how many paintbrushes and stacks, STACKS, of paper I have sitting on shelves? I don’t even use them! Someday, but not today. But let’s talk about more expensive items. I wasn’t satisfied with my car stereo speakers. Not loud enough. Sounded tinny. I need bigger, louder speakers and so I bought them. But I wonder if I should have bought the Alpine Type S?

This is most of us. Any age range, any background. Most of us are not content with what we have. And companies count on it! A new phone is available ALL the time. New cars? Check. New make-up and lipstick? Waiting on the counters. What I don’t get is the new shampoos. Just soap and fragrance right? Oh, actually, I bought a new bottle for manly men. It had Charcoal scent, so of course I had to pick it up and toss the other one out.

We know it doesn’t stop with products. Some people look for another spouse because of reasons. Some people wish they had different children. Some of us don’t like ourselves. A lot of people don’t like God, so they make other arrangements in their belief system.

See the problem? Being content sounds like an anomaly, an alien word used by strange people from strange places. But, being content is where God wants us.

When we’re content, we depend on God. We’re happy with what we have. We’re at peace. We’re less selfish and more selfless. And this isn’t an easy thing either to accomplish, really. We want to take care of any issues ourselves. Why wait for God? We may not even like what he has for us! Let’s take care of this the right way. Our way. When we live with discontentedness (that’s a big word), we’re almost never happy or satisfied. We’ll always be looking for more or bigger or faster or better. There’s no rest there, no peace.

So how do we build contentment?

Be thankful-When we’re thankful for what we have, we’re being humble and gracious. This frees us from being immature and asking God, “Well what else am I getting?” One of the strongest examples of this I witnessed was at a memorial a husband had for his spouse. He said, “I want to thank God for giving me such a wonderful wife for all those years.” This man could easily have complained to God for taking his wife, but instead he had an attitude of thankfulness which had a wonderful fragrance of love and humility.

Look up-Depending on God and what he chooses for our provision sounds weird, really. But there’s something about truly looking to God for help that will change our perspective. It puts God in his place on the throne and our place at his feet. Looking up means some prayer time and waiting time. Looking up to God gives us a chance to stop thinking about us and what we want. He cares so much for us and knows what we need.

Wait-Besides wanting the new, bestest thing out there, we’re also impatient. Ever been in line at a Starbucks with a new cashier? Those poor souls. Being patient is healthy. It allows us to back off and be aware of other things that may be happening. Waiting is God’s way of letting us learn patience. God is very patient if you didn’t notice and he knows we need this. Speaking of Starbucks, I’m was standing in line when 2 more people join the guy in front of me. So instead of 3 people in front of me, there’s 5. My blood pressure rose a couple of degrees, but I let it go. I didn’t want extra orders to ruin my day, so I waited a few extra minutes. When it was their turn, one of the ladies offered to buy my drink. I was surprised and delighted. I got a free coffee, yay for waiting!

Contentment is something we all need more of. Our lives shouldn’t be about us and what else we can grab on the way out. If we practice being thankful, looking up to God for provision, and waiting we can let God work in us more effectively. This means more peace, more of his love, and more power of the Holy Spirit to share with others who need it.

Here’s a good challenge this week. Ask God what you need contentment in. Where are you not satisfied with something and need his help being content?

 

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