What's the Secret to Contentment?
Contentment. What's the secret to it? Paul said he learned it. What'd he learn? Can we learn the same thing? We absolutely can. It won't happen overnight. And you can't just google it or look it up on Pinterest where you'll find beautiful graphics that boast - if you follow these 10 steps, viola you'll be content.
Prayer must be constant.
No, Paul, like you and I had to go through some stuff. He had to be intentional in his attitude. He had to be conscious of what he thought about. How he spent his time. Just like anything else that is learned, you have to keep applying it over and over again until one day you realize you didn't even have to think about it. We must start with prayer. No, start isn't the right word. Because it says to me that we only pray at the beginning of the journey to learning contentment and that's it. No, prayer must be constant.
If I were guessing this verse isn't a new one for most of us.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11
I was doing it with my arms crossed and bottom lip stuck out.
In fact, it may be one of those verses that we unconsciously roll our eyes at and move on because we believe we just can't achieve it. I'm here to encourage you today. Yes we can achieve contentment. It just takes time. Practice. We're going to fail. But that doesn't have to be our story. Don't give up. Let me share a little story about my journey of learning contentment. When I first read this verse I tried to apply it, but I was doing it with my arms crossed and bottom lip stuck out. Yeah, I was praying but my prayer was something like this. Okay, God, I'm content. Now let's move on. I got it.
All the while He knew better, but has loved me through it all of these years. I've found time-after-time-after-time that being content in Him is definitely the answer. Oh, sometimes the circumstances don't change. Sometimes, I simply forget about whatever it was that I wasn't content about. Sometimes, He shows me just how I didn't need whatever it was I felt like I was suffering without. Every time, though, He is my constant. He is there helping me with my attitude. Showing me that He cares about where I'm at and what I'm doing. Even though I haven't achieved contentment 100% of the time and have those moments when I find myself out of focus and wallowing in my discontentment I now can recognize it a little sooner.
Grow where you're planted.
He certainly doesn't want us to be paralyzed by the struggle with contentment. It goes back to that focus thing. There's an old saying that goes grow where you're planted. Another one of those moments where we're tempted to roll our eyes. Just let it sink in. Especially when we're tempted to grumble and complain about whatever it is we're not content with. Maybe, God's got something to show us in this situation. Maybe, He wants to use us to help someone else. And definitely, it is a situation where there's opportunity to bring glory to Him. There's scripture that lends to this idea even though the exact words grow where you're planted aren't there it still gives us the instruction to accept where we're at and focus on God.
Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them...Keeping God’s commands is what counts. Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them....Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. I Corinthians 7:17-24
It may sound a little cheesy,but if that helps me focus on God throughout the day, I'm proud to be cheesy!
One of the best ways is to keep your focus on God is to memorize verses. In fact, I've been known to write a verse on a scrap piece of paper and carry it around in my pocket. It may sound a little cheesy, but if that helps me focus on God throughout the day, I'm proud to be cheesy! Here's a few you might be interested in.
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8
Music is also a great way to get your focus right. There's a song called Open Hand by Laura Story featuring Matt Powell that you might like. There's a line in it that keeps speaking to my heart today. Take it all - every hope, every dream, every plan. Listen to it here.