Hope Discovery for the Day:
Contentment is found in constant reliance on God at all times.
Scripture of the Day:
“I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. 13 I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.”
Standing on the seashore with the sand sifting through my toes, I breathe in the moment of peace that is so rare. I cherish such times when the world seems to stand still and all that swirls around me comes to a halt. But such times of peace would not be so cherished if they were the norm.
Contentment is a discriminator. It permits its existence when the flesh is well pleased. But when circumstances do not meet the demands of our flesh, well that’s another story. Until Christ.
Christ showed us what it meant to rely on His Father. He demonstrated surrender and trust even when it seemed He was unfairly tested or forsaken. He knew the One he relied on. Paul suffered much but through that suffering gained a treasure: perfect contentment at all times. He called this place of contentment a secret because it was not something many had found, nor was it easy to attain.
Sometimes we don’t appreciate when people remind us of this truth of God’s enablement in times of great pain. It is a nice sounding platitude to encourage someone that they can do anything through Christ when the sky is falling around them. But if such counsel was just that – nice sounding religious words not applied, then these words would not be seen for the promise they really are.
God does not lie and His Word is a light for us. When He says that we can do all things through Christ, we can. Scripture does not say that it will always be fun, but for those who are willing to trust God at all times and rely on Him, they will flourish with contentment in the good as well as the bad times.
Perhaps sometimes this promise is lost because we don’t understand what it means to do things “through” Christ. How in the world can we “through Christ” pay late bills, be happy when we physically suffer, or when a loved one has gone astray? It is a miracle, indeed, and as Paul says, there is a secret in contentment because it is not at all attached to the environment around us, but fixated on Christ.
When we are surrounded by challenges, it is so very difficult to not focus on them. Sure, there needs to be enough focus to possibly problem solve, but if our focus is solely on our abilities or on the problem itself, we will remain in our state of discontent or sorrow. But when we change our focus to God and His purposes and promises, we begin to ascend toward contentment.
When I am concerned about self so much, my identity is in myself rather than the new identity I have in Christ. Having my identity in Christ means my goals have changed. I don’t have to have a perfect life anymore. I don’t have to worry about self because my life is for His glory, not mine. This does not mean extremes of not taking care of ourselves, but it does mean that my identity is not wrapped around my circumstances here on earth. There is a profound freedom that comes from this truth. We are not held captive to the whims of our flesh because we have a new Master now in Whom our identity alone is found.
Focus and identity are huge motivators in this quest for contentment, but still, we need strength to be able to choose contentment. Where is it found? How does Christ give us strength? By his example, but also by relying on God through prayer and His Word. Feels like dry duty? Try it. When we regularly study God’s word and mine it for what we need, we discover the victory that he brings in all situations. We have to hunt His word to find what our soul needs. God never ceases to meet us at that place. Contentment is found in constant reliance on God at all times.
Contentment is not found in the easy moments of life when everything goes our way. It is discovered when life hurts and things are imperfect. It is in the tough spots of life that contentment is found. Ironically, when we have all we want, we can be the most discontent because we take it for granted. Contentment is learned in the instruction of life as we lean on God.
So, I had to do it – make an acronym out of the terms that help us achieve this beautiful, sweet contentment. The first letter to the four words I listed as keys to finding this secretive contentment (Focus, Identity, Strength and Tough) spell FIST. Get on your gloves, stand and fight for contentment or better yet – fight on your knees. Fight for the freedom to not be led by your emotions and to choose contentment. The fight will be worth it.
When we choose to rely on God and cast our cares on Him, we are set free. We are set free from letting our flesh dictate our feelings. Free from confirming to the norm of complaints and free to glorify and trust God in every circumstance. Free to be content.
Lord, thank you for being our sufficiency, our portion, everything we need. Help us to learn more how to access all You are for all we need.