Updated: Apr 20
A man once went to a minister for counseling.
He was in the midst of a financial collapse. "I've lost everything," he bemoaned.
"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that you've lost your faith.'
"No," the man corrected him, "I haven't lost my faith."
"Well, then I'm sad to hear that you've lost your character."
"I didn't say that," he corrected. "I still have my character."
"I'm sorry to hear that you've lost your salvation."
"That's not what I said," the man objected. "I haven't lost my salvation."
"You have your faith, your character, your salvation. Seems to me," the minister observed, "that you've lost none of the things that really matter."
We haven't either but may I ask you a question?
How would you fill in the blank: "I will be happy when ____________?"
Don't read any further.
Finish that statement and fill in the blank.
When I am healed?
When I am promoted?
When I am married?
When I am single?
When I am rich?
When I am 10 pounds lighter?
Now, with your answer firmly in mind, answer this.
If your ship never comes in, if your dream never comes true, if the situation never changes, could you be happy? If not, then you are living in claws of discontentment.
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13
Many of you have just heard my testimony on The Unfolding podcast with Meredith Foster on WBGL radio. If you didn't and would like to listen to it go here. In that story, I spoke of coming out of the most difficult time in my life in January 2013. I was unemployed, homeless, had just lost everything I owned in a devastating house fire, dead broke after closing a business I put my heart, soul, and cash into, and was newly single again after the end of an 18-month relationship.
I was depressed, suicidal and completely devoid of a plan. For a girl who prided herself on wardrobe, material possessions, and color-coded road maps to achieving goals - I was forced to look at who I was while stripped bare of all that I thought defined me. Wake up without a pair of socks, a toothbrush, or a fabulous daytime moisturizer and quickly you'll realize what's important. (Hint: it's not anything labeled Prada)
What I wasn't without, however, was a bible and a team on a mission. I had just been chosen one month prior to the fire for a missions team to Brazil and was in the early preparations for that trip. While I didn't see a way out of my dark, deep, dreadful valley, God was making a way. He was holding on to me, strengthening me and preparing me for what he knew was out ahead but that I was totally clueless about. What was destroyed by fire, was about to be restored in the water of the Amazon River.
Our missions team met weekly and there was much spiritual study to be done and planning to partake in to fulfill the objective of that trip. During the five-month-long lead-up to the trip, I slowly began to heal from the loss of life as I knew it. During those five months, God created a new heart in me, slowly began to replenish my possessions, and refresh my perspective of what I thought I lost in the fire, and bring me a contentment I had never experienced before.
During the process of healing I learned that if I was going to be refined, I would have to do the very hard work of transforming my mind about many things I thought were true about myself and life. It was during those months of intense study, surrender, and relinquishing my selfish desires that I realized that contentment has nothing to do with circumstances surrounding you, but with mindsets abounding in you. I dedicated all of my time to reading and developing new definitions of success, contentment, healthy relationships, and strengthening my personal walk with Jesus. Peace came. Contentment was achieved at a time when I had nothing but His presence.
Yes, I lost stuff in the fire. Replaceable belongings. But I also lost my attachment to labels, materialism, and defining myself by the world's standards. The beauty that was brought from ashes wasn't found in my closet, but in my heart, my true worth, and my identity in Christ.
That journey led me to where I am now. In a God-ordained, God-given, God-gifted place of wanting for nothing and having everything, I could need. I am still beyond content. I am in the sweet spot.
In our search for contentment, we are constantly bombarded with things that compete not only for our attention, but that want to be the source of our identity. It’s tempting to tie our sense of self-worth to our appearance, our work, our possessions, our love relationships, our health. When we do that we are defining ourselves by standards that will never satisfy. The immediate danger in seeking contentment is to look to self. The answer isn't self-help. It isn't self-talk, self-focus, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth, self-sufficiency. That is not contentment. That is conceit.
Contentment is the absence of worry. It is a state of peaceful happiness and the secret of inward peace. It cannot come from material things because they can never satisfy the heart. Contentment is the sweet inward state of perpetual joy, peace, gentleness, and strength in every moment regardless of our circumstances. Essentially, contentment comes from inside of us, not outside of us. It is completely free from dependence on circumstances. Contentment has nothing to do with what is going on outside of you but rather, it comes from the God inside of you. Contentment lies not in what we have, but in whose we are.
Paul said in Phillippians 4:11-13 that he learned contentment. Usually, God puts us through difficult experiences of life in order to learn how to be content. The word content actually means contained. It is a description of a person whose resources are within him so that he does not have to depend on substitutes without. Paul knew that the Christian is not sufficient in himself; he is sufficient in Christ. Because Christ lives within us, we are adequate for the demands of life. Here are three things to look for to learn contentment.
The Overruling Providence of God
Life is not a series of accidents, it's a series of appointments. Providence simply means the protective care of God, before something happens. His hand is constantly ruling and overruling the affairs of life. God is working in advance to arrange circumstances and situations for fulfilling His purpose. He works all things for good to them that love Him. (Romans 8:28)
The Unfailing Power of God
All of nature depends on hidden resources. The great trees send their roots down into the earth to draw up water and minerals. Rivers have their sources in the snow-capped mountains. The most important part of a tree is the part you cannot see, the root system, and the most important part of the Christian’s life is the part that only God sees. Unless we draw on the deep resources of God by faith, we fail against the pressures of life. Paul depended on the power of Christ at work in his life. “I can—through Christ!” was Paul’s motto, and it can be our motto too. He is the vine, we are the branches. We are only sufficient in Christ's sufficiency. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)
The Unchanging Promise of God
God does not promise to supply all our greeds. He promises that if we are in the will of God, serving for the glory of God, then He will have every need met. It's a give and take with God. Usually, in the bible, there is a premise, then a promise. It's an "If you do this, then I will do that" deal. We block the flow of God's blessings by being stingy. It is just a very basic principle of Scripture and life that God honors our giving in proportion to our generosity. You cannot outgive God (try it, let me know what you learn). When I started generously giving (time, talent, money) is when my world changed and my relationship with the Lord went to a much deeper level. It is because of this that I know that every need I have will be met, and that contentment is priceless.
Contentment comes from adequate resources. Our source should first and foremost be the presence of God. He is everywhere you are. The three resources above provide sufficiency for every demand in life. If you read further in Phillippians chapter 4 you will see a promise:
"My God will supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Let's say I was one of the wealthiest people in America. A multibillionaire. If I, who has unbelievable resources, wrote you a check for $1,000 and said, "Here, this is my gift to you," I would be giving to you from my riches. But if I gave you a blank check and said, "Whatever you need, I've already signed it," that would be according to my riches. God will meet your needs according to his riches. That means God gives the faithful believer a blank check that is signed in the name of Jesus Christ. His name is on the dotted line.
If you let the truth of this passage grasp you, your life will be revolutionized. You have all you need. Go to him and enjoy a contented life.
Music is worship, prayer, peace, love, joy to me and it is a crucial part of my time with Jesus daily. I am going to start adding a video to every blog that I find peace and contentment in. Message me if you want my personal playlist. Here's one: