If Only…

If Only…

Contentment…it sounds blissful, does it not?


I think of resting in a beach hammock – a warm breeze whispering through palm trees, waves lapping against the shore, a good book and a refreshing drink. Peace. Quiet. Beauty. Comfort. Oh yes, I could be content there.

But for most of us, most of the time, reality looks quite different.

My reality looks more like busyness and messiness and overall craziness. And noise. Lots of noise. I often think of Dory from Finding Nemo – “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”

Over the last few days, I’ve found myself wrestling with contentment. True to His character, God met me tonight in my place of struggle and whispered this reminder in my heart: “…Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim 6:6).

Paul, who penned the above verse, also said this about contentment: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Phil 4:11). He had learned. It didn’t come naturally to him. He said, “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” (Phil 4:12).

I find it interesting that Paul had to learn contentment in times of plenty. I often think I’d naturally be content if I just had (fill in the blank). But Paul knew that things never satisfy. Even in plenty, the human heart craves more. (See Prov 27:20.)

So how can we, like Paul, learn this secret to contentment? As with any struggle we face, God starts in our hearts and minds. When we know the truth, we experience freedom. God transforms us by renewing our minds. (See Jn 8:32, Rom 12:2, Col 3:10.)

Here’s what I realized as I pondered this issue today. If I’m discontent, I’m probably doing one (or both) of the following:

  • believing that circumstances control my happiness
  • comparing myself to someone else.

If circumstances control my happiness, then I am a victim. I cannot rise above the struggles or pain or challenges that come my way. I’m stuck here until something changes – which could be forever, if I’ve experienced loss or been deeply wounded or feel shame over past sin.

If I’m comparing myself to someone else, my focus is misplaced. I’m wishing for what God has given another, instead of embracing the gifts He’s given me – the life, the ministry, the work, the talents, the story… (2 Cor 10:12).

Once I recognize the lies I’m believing, I can capture them and subject them to the truth of Scripture (2 Cor 10:3-5):

  • I am complete in Christ (Col 2:10).
  • God has removed my sin as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).
  • God gives beauty for ashes (Is 61:3).
  • God assigns my areas of influence and ministry (2 Cor 10:13).
  • God has given me everything I need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3).
  • God richly supplies all of my needs, for my provision and enjoyment (Phil 4:19, 1 Tim 6:17).
  • I have a heavenly inheritance (1 Pet 1:4).
  • God’s grace is enough (2 Cor 12:9).

contentment meme

The richest people on earth are those whose hearts are satisfied – with Jesus and the gifts He has given.

How about you? Any thoughts on this issue? What causes you to feel discontent? How do you choose contentment? I’d love to hear from you!


Related Posts:

Voices in my Head

Lessons from my Old Guitar

Daily Bread Provision

And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” Phil 4:19 (Amplified Bible).

Do you ever catch yourself worrying about the future? Sometimes it happens before I even realize it. I am anxious and uptight and fearful about something that’s not even a need yet. It will be a need, for sure. Tomorrow. Or next week. Or at some unforseen time in the future. But I’m already stressing out over it.

I like to think I’m just planning ahead, but really I’m worrying ahead.

Lately God has been teaching me about His “daily bread provision.” I personally like it when He provides well in advance of my needs. But I’m learning that He often doesn’t work that way. Jesus taught us to pray that God would provide our daily bread (Luke 11:3), that He would meet today’s needs.

And if I stop to think about it, all of today’s needs are met. We have food and clothing and shelter and so many other things – today. I have grace and wisdom and strength to handle the problems and situations that come my way – today. And tomorrow He will be just as faithful (Phil 4:19, above).

But sometimes I’m not worrying about a need. I’m just discontent over what I don’t have. Like that remodeled kitchen I’ve been planning for years. Or that robotic vacuum cleaner my floors so desperately need. 🙂 Or more alone, quiet time. Or…and the list goes on.

In Hebrews 13:5 we read, “Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.'” The motivation behind contentment, the reason for not worrying about having more, is God Himself. He is with me. Enough said.

There are plenty of other promises that He will take care of us, but it all boils down to Emmanuel. God is with me.

The promise-keeping God. The all-powerful Creator. The God who owns everything. The One who has infinite riches in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19). The God who commanded ravens to feed Elijah (1 Kings 17:4) and rained bread from heaven (Ps 78:24-25). Who made water flow from a rock (Ex 17:6) and kept the widow’s oil jug and flour jar from running dry (1 Kings 17:14). Who multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed over 5000 people (Mark 6:37-44). That good and faithful God is with me. I am His child and He loves me. He delights in giving good things to His kids (Matt 7:11).

Second Peter 1:3 reminds us where our focus should be. “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” In God’s realm – outside of time – all that we need for living and being godly is already ours (past tense).

We can rest in His provision and focus on knowing and loving Jesus.

What are you worried about today? How does “God with you” meet your need today?