Do you ever think ‘What if’, ‘if only’ or ‘why me?’ I know I ask these questions and all too often! It is so easy to fall into the trap of thinking we ourselves can alter and shape the future. We evaluate our situation and if we are not completely satisfied the questions begin. As someone who is far too familiar with the ‘valleys’ in life, the doubts and questions can become burdensome. We’ve been taught that contentment is linked to our accomplishments or accumulation of satisfaction from the world. These questions can never be fully answered and since there is no end to our desires to acquire or do more, the horizon is always moving. We will never experience contentment following this line of thinking.
The true meaning of contentment is being satisfied with what you have and with who you are – right now, always being content that the Lord provides everything you need. Despite the many trials Paul went through he understood how to be content. In Philippians 4:11-13 he wrote,
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 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. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Contentment doesn’t have anything to do with external influences; rather it has everything to do with God and how He is moulding us and refining us all for His glory. The good news is that we all can learn how to become fully content with who we are, what we are, and what we’re doing. Through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we can learn how to be content by thanking God for what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t have.
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Give thanks no matter what happens. God wants you to thank him because you believe in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
The key is to be confident in the knowledge you can do all things through Him who gives you strength. This only occurs by faith, moment by moment.
The apostle Paul highlighted the importance of living life as we are called to do. 1 Corinthians 7 verse 17 states ‘Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.’ Paul emphatically states that God has sovereignty over all things and He has assigned each believer with a place in life, and it is from where we are situated now that the Lord will use us. Every day, God places us where we need to be in order to serve Him. Our ‘place’ in this world is not determined by chance, but has been carefully crafted and weaved into a grand design.
So what happens when we reach the valley and all looks bleak? In our own strength we crumble and cannot cope with the burdens of life, but with God everything is possible. We may feel unable to carry on, but the God of the mountaintop is still the same God in the valley. He is able to remove us from the difficult situation, but that isn’t always helpful. There is always a reason for our circumstances – whether to learn something new or to remold us in Christ. But the most important thing, above all else, our circumstances are given to us to glorify the Lord and become trophies of His grace. God is Sovereign over all things – good and the not so good. The difficulties we experience don’t happen to us by chance, but we know that there is good in every situation. We may not see it immediately and we may ask. ‘Why is this happening?’ but during these times we need to thank God and trust in Him.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28