Hope for contentment right where you are
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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…” —Philippians 4.11-12
Not again, I thought to myself, as I took a deep breath and tried to digest the heavy news. A million thoughts raced through my head, but I couldn’t make sense of it all, even to form a cohesive response. I was once again left speechless as I wondered…
“Why didn’t you prevent it?” “Where is the miracle?” “When will the relief come?”
“How can you just watch your children suffer?” “God, please just M O V E!”
It’s been one of those seasons where it seems so many of those near + dear to me are going through tough stuff. Not your normal everyday trials, but divorce, cancer, loss, depression, and the list goes on and on. Normally, I’m not a “why is this happening” type of gal, but I’ve found myself wallowing in the magnitude of suffering around me. And there’s been one word swirling around my head as I’ve tried to make sense of it all…
That seemingly harmless word has haunted me all year. Is contentment really
possible in our realities? How can we be content in the midst of suffering? These questions shook this “church girl” to my core this year, so I went on a search for truth.
If anyone has the authority to speak to contentment in the face of suffering, it’s Paul. In Philippians 4 we find the apostle penning these very personal words while he was on house arrest for two years in a rented Roman house. Yet he was able to say, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstance.”
After studying Philippians aka “the book of joy,” I couldn’t help but ask myself, How could Paul be content in all of the persecution, hardship, trials, and suffering he encountered?
And how can we be content when we are swimming in suffering all around us?
“Contentment is found in the WHO we received, not in chasing our need.”
Our contentment isn’t found in chasing better circumstances or the absence of trials. When we have a relationship with Jesus, we have all we need to live a life of contentment—whatever the season. Union with the exalted Christ is the secret to contentment. This truth is behind Paul’s flourishing life of contentment we see between the pages of Scripture, and this truth holds the potential for us too.
Now, I’m not going to lie, as the Lord began to reveal this truth to me on my quest for contentment, it felt like a “Sunday School answer” that sounded good but wasn’t going to translate into my everyday. And I know some of you reading this are thinking those very same things. But the Lord gently responded to my doubts with, “Do you trust me?”
TRUST: Firm belief in the character or strength of someone
When we trust God with our “whatever”, we are believing in the character of our God. This is exactly what Paul did. In whatever hardship he faced, circumstance he was planted in, suffering he endured—He trusted God. His trust was in the one who “works all things for good,” one who is for him, in one that would never leave nor forsake him. It was in Paul’s relationship with Christ that he found contentment in whatever he braved.
Paul trusted God with his “whatever”. And if we desire contentment in our reality, we must do the same. Because our contentment is in a who, our contentment is not dependent on our circumstances. Isn’t this good news to our weary and broken spirits?! Friends, this means we can be content now, no matter where we find ourselves planted.
“Our contentment is in a never changing God, not our ever changing circumstances.”
What is your “whatever”?
- Terminal diagnosis
- Loss of a loved one
- Financial Hardship
- Crumbling Marriage
Trusting God with our “whatever” doesn’t mean it instantly heals our pain, fixes the relationship, brings back the loved one, or even takes away the suffering. But when we bring Him our broken hearts (tears, mascara smudges, and all), when we surrender our suffering, and invite Him into our messy circumstances, we find contentment in the midst of even our deepest times of pain. This is because our contentment is in our relationship with Jesus Christ Himself.
When we cease our chase of better circumstances, absence of trials, and the end of suffering and trust God with our “whatever,” we truly begin living in the secret of contentment. Our contentment lies in a WHO—our forever faithful Savior.
Search out scripture on the character of God and remind yourself of who He is. Find promises in his Word that declare the power of God to overcome and sustain in any circumstance, trial, or suffering you are currently facing. Write the Scriptures on index cards and put them around your house, car, wherever you will see them. And then declare them over your circumstances.