Scripture: Philippians 4:12
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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.
Reflection: Escaping Discontent
By Jon Polk
A commercial pilot flying over the Tennessee mountains pointed out a lake to his co-pilot. “See that lake down there? When I was a boy, I used to sit in a rowboat and fish for hours. Whenever a plane flew overhead, I pretended I was piloting the jet.”
The co-pilot responded, “You must be proud that you have achieved your boyhood dreams.” The pilot replied, “Not exactly. Now when I fly over that lake, I wish I was down there fishing.”
Contentment is an elusive pursuit. We want to believe there is something out there that we can find or achieve or buy that will finally make us happy.
It is difficult to find contentment in a culture that works hard to foster discontent. Consumer economies are designed to ensure we are never satisfied, in essence, monetizing our discontent. Businesses do their best to keep us constantly longing for the latest and greatest “Shiny Objects.” Enough is never enough.
If we are never satisfied, we are not fully able to enjoy the life that God has given us.
Notice that Paul didn’t write, “I’m so glad that it is easy to be content in every situation.” No, he says, “I had to learn to be content whatever the circumstances.”
First, Paul learned we should rejoice in the Lord. Even in the midst of difficulty we can rejoice that God sustains and cares for us. Second, be known for gentleness, not insisting on our own rights, but instead striving for the welfare of others. Third, don’t be anxious about anything. Recall the words of Jesus, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Finally, pray with thanksgiving. When we give thanks to God, we acknowledge that everything we have is a gift, a result of His goodness and generosity.
If we are pursuing these things, what are we not doing?
We’re not congratulating ourselves for how great we are. We’re not being proud or selfish or stingy with our resources. We’re not complaining or comparing ourselves to others. We’re not consumed by the insatiable quest for more.
Instead, we are free to focus on the only one who can provide for us, God himself, and when we find joy in the Lord, we can let go of our discontent and find contentment in his love and grace.
The Call to Prayer
Sing praise to the Lord who dwells in Zion; proclaim to the peoples the things he has done. — Psalm 9:11
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.