We have come to the last spoke in the emotional wheel in our series on complete health*. In a culture characterized by consumerism what could be more needed than a lesson on contentment! You will be blessed and encouraged as you read Alesa Campbell’s compelling testimony as she shares what God has taught her on this important subject:
I have learned the secret of being content. Philippians 4:12
By Alesa Campbell
These are remarkable words, especially considering Paul, the writer of this passage, was not exactly living a life of luxury when he wrote them. In fact, he was in prison. The apostle had experienced numerous hardships (rejection, beatings, hunger, imprisonment, ship wreck, etc.) yet he was content while enduring extremely difficult circumstances. How could that be? Is it possible for us to have that same type of true contentment? Let’s look at some of Paul’s teachings to discover his secret of contentment.
First of all, accept Christ. Salvation is the initial step to experiencing a lasting contentment. It is in a personal relationship with Christ where you begin to understand why you were created and put on this earth and it is through knowing Him we form an attitude of what is and is not important during our time on this earth. He helps us prioritize and untangle our wad of selfish objectives. As we grow spiritually His desires become our desires, but this takes place only when Christ is our Savior and Lord.
Next, submit to God’s will. Some people aren’t content because they aren’t living the life they envisioned or planned. They feel like God is withholding something they should have. This lie of Satan’s is as old as the Garden of Eden. Contentment is impossible until we submit to God’s will for our life and accept His plan, which is always best.
When I married my husband, I desired to have six kids. I wanted a home filled with children because I grew up with 7 siblings and knew the joy of a full house. But this was not God’s plan for me. He blessed me with one wonderful child and, with time, a contented heart. When I wished for more children, He reminded me of the joy I was already experiencing through mothering my son. After a while, I accepted this was His will and trusted that God knew what was best for me and my husband. Also, I was so very grateful for what He did give me. I did not want to take the blessing for granted. Which leads to another way to experience contentment — praise.
Be grateful for all you’ve been given. True gratitude produces praise and praise can usher contentment into our heart.
When we begin to praise God for what He has given us, the focus seems to shift — we take our eyes off of what we do not have and begin to see clearly what we do have. During this transition, our contentment increases.
Paul also wrote, Give thanks in all circumstances. (I Thessalonians 5:18). Perhaps because he practiced the discipline of thankfulness, it was easier for him to experience contentment regardless of his circumstances. He learned to look for something positive during difficult times and he learned to accept the challenges which came his way, knowing that God is able to make all things work together for our good (Romans 8:28).
At age 50 I live with three auto immune disorders and a blood disorder and don’t think for a minute I have not struggled with accepting this condition. You won’t exactly find me skipping through the house every day singing It is Well With My Soul. At times it has caused overwhelming anxiety and fear but thank goodness God repeatedly shows me how to trust Him and praise Him. During my moments of physical pain and emotional grief over not having a normal life, the Lord helps me be grateful for what I’ve been given and that desire is blanketed in contentment. It is very real and I know it can only come from my Savior.
Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 - Blessed is he who hungers and thirsts for righteousness. For he will be filled. The word filled actually means satisfied. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is desiring to do what is right and is manifested in prayer and Bible study.
Jesus also said in Matthew 6:33 - Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. If we seek God, He will supply what we need — and with that, we can surely be content. In other words, seek God and He will fill you up, giving you what really matters.
Sometimes we cannot experience contentment because the Holy Spirit is convicting us of sin in our lives. It’s not pleasant, but that nudging in our hearts is there so we will confess our sins and allow God to forgive us. After we’ve repented, we must put aside any guilt or shame which can so easily rob us of the peace and contentment of confession. This entire process is the work of Christ in our lives and it is ongoing as we repeatedly live with temptations and sinfulness. How wonderful it is to know His forgiveness!
Contentment is a Choice
Are you satisfied with your life? Are you waiting for every aspect of your life to be good before you consider yourself content? Regardless of your disposition, health, job, financial resources, personal relationships and emotional status, your heart can truly be satisfied. It’s something which happens internally as your emotions and spiritual life become what God intended.
Contentment is Learned
One final reminder, Paul said, I have learned to be content. Contentment didn’t just fall out of the sky and into Paul’s heart. He developed it as he allowed God to work in his life and as he grew spiritually. Therefore, always believe…contentment IS possible.
(Alesa Campbell, wife of Mark and mother of Ben, is a speech therapist, writer and Bible study teacher.)
To read other articles in this series look in the Health/Fitness and Spiritual Growth categories.
*I would like to thank and give credit to the Ministries of Jesus (MOJ) Clinic, a ministry of Henderson Hills Baptist Church in Edmond, OK, for the Wheels of Health idea and illustration, which is based on the book God’s Design for the Highly Healthy Person by Walt Larimore, M.D. (www.DrWalt.com ).
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