Originally posted April 7, 2008:
"But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. And you yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account. But I have received everything in full, and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit." Philippians 4:10-23 NIV
I've been thinking and praying about this passage of scripture for about a week now. I keep coming back to the portion of verse 11 that says, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." There are several reasons this has such an impact on me... 1) I desire to be truly content with what God has given me and where He has placed me, and 2) there seems to be such a focus in our society on what it takes to be content or to be happy.
Over the last few years, I have noticed a number of surveys reported to have been done regarding happiness or contentment in America. I "Googled" the words 'contentment' and 'survey' and found an abundance of surveys that have been done on this topic. There are surveys asking about contentment in careers, contentment with quality of life, contentment in marriages, contentment in family life -- the list goes on and on.
From my vantage point, the realization of true contentment seems to be elusive to so many people. Why is that? Could it be that many have not discovered where true contentment comes from? Maybe that they haven't yet learned that this comes from God and not from material possessions? Until we have found contentment and peace in God, all the rest is just fluff.
We may not have the largest TV or the most expensive car on the block, but God will provide us with a roof over our heads, food to eat, clothes to wear, the love and support of family and friends and a peace that passes all understanding -- He will provide our NEEDS. As Paul tells us in verse 19, "And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." And we know we have the ability to be content because Paul tells us in verse 13, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." God gives us the strength to be content in a world that is materialistic. He gives us the strength to be content when we are hurting. He gives us the strength to be content when we're not sure what lies ahead. God IS our contentment.... our JOY.