Happy New Year! I’m not one that’s big on resolutions or having a “word of the year”. It’s not for any particular reason necessarily. It’s just something that I have never really felt led to do. I was driving to Wal-Mart last night, with a million thoughts swirling through my head, and I began to grow anxious. I was anxious because we had a busy week ahead, our house was a wreck (Christmas was still everywhere!), we needed food for the week (hence the Wal-Mart trip), etc. I’m sure that you can relate. But as I began to loose joy and let an ungrateful attitude take over, one word came to mind:
I started to think about this word, and it hit me that the reason why I feel so anxious about things is because I’ve been lacking contentment. In our world, it’s so easy to not be content. Everywhere we turn there’s something else telling us how our home should look, or how our kids should act, or how we should dress. We get caught up comparing our situation to others. We create idols. We become ungrateful and think that the grass is greener on the other side. We become discontent in our situation or season of life. And all of this, well all of this leads to negativity, bitterness, loosing your joy, etc. None of it is pleasing to the Lord.
Paul says in Philippians 4:11-12, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (ESV). Paul says that we should be content in WHATEVER situation and in EVERY circumstance; he says that this is the secret to facing the highs and the lows. This means that I need to be content on the days that my house is clean and on the days when it’s not (I should just be grateful that I have a house to live in). I need to be content on the days that we eat sandwiches for dinner and on the days when we get to go out for a nicer meal (I should just be grateful that we have food to eat). I need to be content on the days when my kids are well behaved and on the days they are not (I should just be grateful that God entrusted these children to my husband and me). I need to be content on the days where I’ve made everyone happy and the days that I have not (people-pleasing is one of my struggles).
Letting go of discontentment is a huge relief. When we let go and strive to be content where the Lord has us, we can stop striving for other things that have been weighing us down. We can lay down the idol of comparison. The Lord can exchange our bitterness for a grateful and joyous attitude. We can please the Lord by thriving in the season of life that He has us in, whether it’s a season of abundance or a season of little.
Paul wraps up talking about contentment with a very familiar verse. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (ESV). We often make this verse “me centered”, and believe that it means God will bless whatever we do. However, we must look at this verse (and all verses) within its context. This verse immediately follows the verses that says that we are to be content in whatever situation. In our flesh, being content is hard; it’s against our human nature to feel that way. We cannot have an attitude of contentment in all situations with our own strength. We can do all things- having an attitude of contentment in all situations- through Christ who strengthens us.
Ultimately, Christ is the only reason that we can be content. He can give us the strength to be content on our high days and our low days. If you are a follower of Christ, you can be content in whatever situation that He has you in because of your relationship with Him. True contentment is only found in Christ and in knowing the sweet salvation and eternal life that He offers. When you have that, there truly is no need for discontentment, because Christ has given you Himself, which is truly all that’s needed.
So, friends, will you join me in asking Christ for the strength to be content no matter what He has in store for 2017?
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 (ESV)
**Side note: I do not believe that this means that we should be content with our relationship with Christ. We should always be striving to grow our relationship with Him and have a desire to be more like Him daily.