“Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” — Philippians 4:12b-13 (NKJV)
The Key to Contentment
A long-term athlete, coach or fan must learn to adapt to changing circumstances or we will not last one season. All sunshine and no rain makes a desert. All rain and no sunshine makes a swamp. Why would we yearn for every day to be exactly the same? Variety is part of the beauty of life. Change happens. Life is full of surprises.
In the modern world, video games, social media and romantic movies allow us to escape, but we need to face reality in order to do well. These imaginary worlds invent a perfect day, perfect relationships, perfect pictures, perfect jobs and perfect health. When reality slaps us in the face, we sometimes struggle because life isn’t easy. Life is a series of ups and downs, mountains and valleys, conflict and peace, wins and losses, frustrations and fun.
The Apostle Paul didn’t have an easy life but he chose to be happy. Though Paul was a good man, he didn’t always get to gather with family and friends on holidays. His missionary travels took him far from home. He made plans but his enemies prevented him from doing everything he wanted to do.
After Jesus met Paul on the Road to Damascus, Paul lived for God and others. He no longer lived for himself. As he served God, life got harder and not easier. Paul’s health wasn’t good but he was still thankful. This man experienced a lot of pain and persecution. Yet he praised God.
As Paul shared a summary of his experiences as a missionary and as a preacher, he remained hopeful in spite of the pain. “Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst…” (2 Corinthians 11:25-27, NKJV). This suffering man found ways to celebrate in the worst circumstances.
The key to contentment is Christ. If we rejoice in our salvation through Christ, then we learn to rejoice in spite of changing circumstances because Christ is constantly faithful and good. Since our sufferings are small compared to Paul’s, we can learn contentment.
— Bill Kent, Pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Sylvania, Ga.
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