Recently I have been travelling a lot more than usual and have found myself being challenged on the subject of contentment. In some of the places I travel to I have access to 24 hour internet, and in other places I don’t. Sometimes I have hot water, or a room to myself, and other places I don’t. Sometimes our plans run smoothly, and we leave and arrive at our destination on time, but other times that’s not the case. There are unexpected delays and there is nothing we can do but sit and wait.
I well identify with the words of the Apostle Paul in today’s reading. Paul said that he’d learnt the secret of being content in all and any circumstance, and the secret was that Christ was his strength. What really stood out to me from his statement was the word ‘learnt’. That word encourages me because it was obviously a process for him, as it is for you and me. Sometimes I also think that contentment’s a choice. It’s very human to focus on what you don’t have, or what’s not happening in your life, instead of focussing on what God’s provided and on what He’s doing.
The New Testament teaches about contentment in other places as well. In Hebrews 13:5 we are exhorted to keep our lives free from the love of money and be content with what we have. Whether our bank balances show a large surplus or just enough to cover our basic needs, we can still be content with our lot. What if our bills exceed our income, or there’s no predictable income coming in at all? Paul wrote in Philippians that he’d learnt to be content even in this, as he knew what it was to be in need. He also wrote to his spiritual son Timothy that ‘godliness with contentment is great gain’ (1 Timothy 6:6). May we all learn to acquire this precious treasure by allowing Christ to give us His strength.
Prayer: Father God, I admit that sometimes I’m not content with my circumstances, and I know that You want me to learn to be. Thank You that no matter what befalls me, I can become like the Apostle Paul, because You’re the one who infuses inner strength into me. Amen.
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