Cultivating Contentment

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11

Easier said than done.  This verse sounds cool but the reality is, contentment is not an easy thing.  As a matter of fact,  Paul, an incredibly godly man in the Bible had to learn contentment.  Contentment is not a natural propensity of man.  According to Charles Spurgeon, “contentment is one of the natural flowers of heaven, and, if we would have it, it must be cultivated.  It will not grow in us by nature;  it is the new nature along that can produce it, and even then we must be especially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us.”

It’s interesting to note that Paul say’s he has learned to be content.  This means that he didn’t know how at one time.  Do you know what it means to be content?  I don’t mean do you shut your t.v. off every other day or buy the off brand of your favorite cheetos because you are “sacrificing” to save a little money, but do you really know what it means to be content?  Can you say, today, that you choose to want or desire nothing more than what you have been granted by God at this given time in your life?  Could you let go of it all right now if you had to?  Or are you plagued with a constant addiction to shopping or busying your schedule or having to have the next best thing?  Living in the  false hope of a perceived future for yourself is a dangerous thing.  Don’t tread those waters because if you do, you will never know how to be content.

You might be living in plenty right now or you might be living with many needs.  Kevin and I have experienced both.  There was a time when we were first married and Kevin was earning a decent living for a couple right out of college.  We had purchased our first home, had a car and welcomed our firstborn home to a nursery full of goods.  We’ve also been down the road of having little.  I remember our days in Louisville, Kentucky so clearly – Kevin was working 3 jobs and going to school full-time and I was home in an 800 sq. ft. apartment with two babies in diapers and eating peanut butter for dinner. I can also remember the time that we watched one of our little girls suffer seizures for 2 years of her life never knowing when they would come or if they would stop for good and wrestling to be content while watching a child suffer.    We also know what it’s like to have to depend on other people for  income as we even currently live off of support raising and are blessed to have people in our life who help us to carry out God’s plan for our family.  I can tell you from experience that we’ve have learned to be content but don’t think for a minute that  we’ve got it all down.  We have still got a lot to learn.  It’s a daily choice we have to make, sometimes many times in one day.  It’s a choice to say ” I choose to be content with my circumstances” that is NOT based on the hopes of a brighter future.  Although that may be in store for us in this life, God doesn’t promise it.  Suffering should be a mark on our lives if we truly are Christians.  Making the choice to be content is hard but it is freeing.  Choosing contentment isn’t just related to money but it deals with the things God has allowed in our lives as well – the  circumstantial events.  And so I urge you with Spurgeon,  “Brother, and sister, hush that complaint, as natural as it is, and continue as a diligent scholar in the College of Content.”