Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "My Faith Looks Up To Thee"1 (Lyrics)
Years ago, I helped in cleaning out my grandmother's house after she died. Anyone having engaged in a similar role will know how difficult it can be, and yet, there are certain surprises. In fact, for me it was like a gift waiting to be discovered, which provided healing in the midst of grief.
While cleaning out her bedroom, I came across a framed biblical verse by the apostle Paul. It was sitting on a small table next to her bedside. From when I was a teenager, I recalled her showing me this quotation, which had cut-out flowers surrounding the biblical passage, all glued on a small mat in an inexpensive drugstore frame. At the time, I thought little of it.
Years later, the framed verse was still there. For some reason, there was no way that I could dispose of the pocket-sized framed verse. It read:
Philippians 4:11 – Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (KJV)
I brought the framed verse home, and it sits on my desk today as a gift from my grandmother. I feel certain that she is grateful, "I have learned."
Becoming content does not happen overnight. It is something that we learn — oftentimes the hard way. Contentment is greater than an emotional state of being. I have learned that emotions come and go and feelings are fickle, as they sometimes blow hot while other times cold.
The contentment that Paul is referring to is spiritual, and it begins with our reliance upon God and placing our trust and confidence in Jesus as Lord of our life. The fact that contentment is spiritual also means that it is a gift from the Holy Spirit Who relates and unites us to the will of God — and not our own will.
There is movement in this verse as Paul encourages us to learn contentment because we can then "do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13 NKJV) That does not mean that I am superman! It does mean that we can be content in all circumstances through God's strength — not our own strength. Such is quite the difference.
I have also learned that this strength comes through grace, which time and again gives us the strength to do those things that we can normally not do on our own. All of this brings me back to holding onto contentment and cherishing the gift from my grandmother.
As we think of the big picture — heaven and earth, life and death, today and tomorrow — reflect on the gift of spiritual contentment in your own life and what you have learned. Of course, stress, anxiety, and worry are all strong, but we have learned and now believe that contentment is even stronger.
Perhaps you know of others who will find Paul's word of contentment helpful. Consider it today as a gift that keeps on giving.
Prayer: Dear Lord, You have taught us to be content, especially during those times in life when we had little and then when we had plenty; those days when we were frustrated and then when we were completely satisfied. Lord, help us to learn that it is not about us. Rather, time and again, in good times and in bad, You are there, and by relying on You, may we find contentment through Your grace and peace passing all understanding. We give You thanks, this day and forevermore. Amen.