Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Thy Way Not Mine O Lord"1 (Lyrics)
Philippians 4:11b – I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. (NIV)
Dents happen. They happen to our freshly painted walls, our cars, our fine furniture, and other things that we cherish. At least, these are the dents that we notice: dents in the things that matter to us.
This past summer, I painted some rooms. Afterward, I sat down and gazed at the beautiful walls: so unblemished, smooth, and clean. It felt satisfying. But alas, it wasn't long before I noticed a dent. Eager to preserve the fresh look, I quickly patched it. But then, I'd see another flaw … and then, another.
Do you see the trouble with dents? If we get overly focused on them, they can take over our life — if we allow it. Discontent takes root; and now we have a dent in our hearts. We're on a downhill slide. Next thing we know, we get cranky with a loved one for denting our cherished coffee table. Sadly, we've now put a dent in their heart — a dent far more serious than the one in the table. It is because we ourselves have lost the quality of godliness.
The trouble is not the dents, but our cherished ideals and expectations. We want something that we do not have. We cannot accept the fact that "stuff happens". With that in mind, consider the lifeview adopted by Paul, the apostle who endured many terrible disappointments:
1 Timothy 6:6-7 – Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. (NIV)
Philippians 4:12b – I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (NIV)
What was Paul's great secret?
First, let me share my secret: After I mounted my pictures on the walls, the imperfections didn't grab my attention as before. I became more focused on the lovely artwork.
That would, of course, be no secret to you; but it does point us to Paul's secret. He had learned to focus on His Lord, and that's what kept him from getting consumed by the "dents" in his life. Paul saw, above all, the loveliness of Christ, the ultimate perfection in Whom is found no "dent" — Christ so pure, so gracious, Christ overflowing with goodness, Christ, the "great gain" — experienced only by learning the secret of contentment.
Prayer: Lord, teach us to see every troublesome "dent" in life as an opportunity to think upon You, our "great gain". Amen.