“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation …” Philippians 4:12b (NIV)
Life had not turned out the way I had hoped and planned. And I wasn’t happy about it.
In fact, I was discontent with everything. It’s not that I wanted “more,” I just wanted “different.” I found myself feeling stuck in a life I didn’t love and powerless to change it.
When life is hard, heartbreaking or even just disappointing, it’s easy to start disliking life altogether. Especially when we feel as if life should be one way, but instead it’s another way entirely, and it may not even be our fault. When this happens, we can easily get stuck in a negative mindset — not only about life, but possibly about God — both of which open the door for discontentment to settle in.
We can feel stuck when a difficult situation rages into our lives and we don’t like it one bit, yet can’t escape it. We can feel stuck when it seems we’ve done everything possible to bring about change of some sort — yet nothing seems to ever change. Or when we’re constantly trying to manipulate things to go our way, control things out of our control, or change people whom we have no power to change.
When our lives are filled with obligations we “have to” meet, or responsibilities we know we “should” or “must” do, we can feel as if there is no way out and be unhappy about the perception of being stuck.
In these moments, it’s easy to lose sight of all of the good things about our lives. Through faith alone, I’ve finally come to realize that even if it seems justified, I don’t have to let discontentment poison my heart and mind. I don’t have to let the things that are not perfect cause me to take life itself for granted. And I certainly don’t have to let unhappiness with some things blind me to all the wonderful things in my life God has given me that bring me true joy.
This is exactly what Paul was teaching in today’s key verse. In Philippians 4:12, Paul told the church at Philippi, “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.” (NIV)
Considering the apostle’s difficult life, this is a pretty amazing attitude. He wrote these specific words while sitting in a prison cell. He’d been arrested on false charges by corrupt officials and faced the possibility of execution, yet he wrote that he’d learned to be content with whatever he had. Which at the moment was literally nothing, not even his freedom. How could he feel that way after all he’d been through … and while he was in prison?
In Philippians 4:13 we find the answer. Paul said, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (NIV) Regardless of his circumstances and despite having endured much persecution and loss, Paul could live with peace and contentment because his heart was right with God. He knew his unwavering faith was the foundation for lasting contentment.
Life is not always exciting. It’s not always easy. It’s not always fair. It’s not always overflowing with opportunity and adventure. Consequently, we’re all going to feel a sense of unhappiness or discontentment from time to time. But we don’t have to stay stuck there.
The life we are living today, with all it includes (or doesn’t include), is the life God has given us. We can choose to be content and joyful in it, or choose to be the opposite.
Lord, help me be content with the way my life looks right now, rather than wishing it were different or better. Help me break free from feelings of discontentment and learn to live with a heart full of gratitude and love for the life You have given me, no matter what it may look like. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (NIV)
Why does God’s plan for our lives sometimes feel like a complicated puzzle to solve? Life would be so much simpler if He would just tell us whether or not to take that job, move to that city or go to that church. In Thy Will Be Done, a new six-week devotional, you’ll find a practical, topical collection of some of our favorite devotions aimed at seeking God’s direction. Get your copy today, free with a donation of your choice! Click here to learn more.
If you feel stuck in discontentment, purchase Tracie Miles’ book, Unsinkable Faith: God-Filled Strategies to Transform the Way You Think, Feel and Live, to help you experience a paradigm shift in your thinking.
Click here to visit Tracie’s blog and enter to win a 3-book gift pack worth $50 as she gears up for her new book release, Love Life Again: Finding Joy When Life Is Hard.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you been feeling discontent and disgruntled with the way your life looks today? What can you do differently today to start changing your perspective? Let us know your thoughts!
How might your joy return if you intentionally chose to view every day as a gift, no matter what the day holds?
© 2018 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.