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Discovering the Secret of Contentment

 

Paul not only said that he had learned the secret of contentment (Phil 4:12), but he also openly shares it in Philippians 4:13. The secret is to realize that all one needs is in Jesus and what He chooses to provide. The more one has in their heart, the less he will require from the outside. This is what the Psalmist declares after his great struggles with discontentment and jealousy.

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.” (Ps. 73:25)

One must trust God to rebuild their thought structures concerning the person of God. When Paul penned these words in Philippians 4 he was not in a palace but in a prison. However, he did not only see himself in prison but also in Christ. Look at the amazing words of 1 Cor. 3:21-23.

“So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.” (1 Cor. 3:21-23)

Observe the phrase “all things belong to you.” I spent a year asking God what these words meant. I came to the conclusion that they show the adequacy of God for us in every situation. All you or I will ever need to fulfill His will for our lives He will provide and not one minute later than we need it.  Any help from another person, or any provision from the world, any blessing in life or death, any present or future blessing, all of this belongs to us (1 Cor. 3:22).  These blessings have been given to us in order to serve our wonderful Savior and Master, Jesus Christ, because we belong to Him (1 Cor. 3:23). We have earned His judgment but in His grace all things belong to us in Christ.

Trust is the key to contentment. We must realize that God is always in control and that He is good. If this were not true, He could never give His children the promise of Romans 8:28

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)

Helen Keller who was entrusted with blindness and the inability to hear later spoke of so enjoying what God had given her that she had no time to think about what she did not have.

He is absolutely faithful to provide all we need to fulfill His will which is exactly what we would desire if we knew all the facts. When we long for another person, position, or possession, we are experiencing the same emotion that God has toward us at that moment. He is always thinking of His people,

 

“Many, O LORD my God,

Are the wonders which You have done,

And Your thoughts toward us;

There is none to compare with You.

If I would declare and speak of them,

They would be too numerous to count.” (Psalm 40:5)

How to Experience Contentment

In order to experience contentment we must learn to delight in the Lord (For a discussion of what it means to delight in the Lord, see pp. 62-67 of Living the Life God Has Planned, Moody Press) and repent of anything that is hindering a flourishing relationship with God.  A verse that may seem far away from us is Isaiah 48:22 which states that “There is no peace for the wicked.” You say, “Yes, that is right; they do not deserve peace and contentment.” But let me ask you one question, “What is more wicked than telling God that He cannot rule over an area of our life?” To do so is to spurn His great gift of peace and contentment.

An idol is that which one looks to meet the thirsts and desires of the heart. In the testimony of my own courtship I related how God convicted me of idolatry. In this case I sensed that God was directing me to end my relationship. In this case it was also resurrected some years later.

What do you do when you are tempted to long for another person? Remember that it is not a sin to be tempted (Heb. 4:15) First of all you can thank God for your normal desire. It is natural to long for companionship and intimacy.  In order to not let this longing take your thoughts in the wrong direction, bring your thoughts in the light to God and share them with Him. Reaffirm the truth of His knowledge of your needs and desires and of His loving care for you. Be honest in your conversation with Him. Trust Him to fulfill your desires in His righteous ways and in His perfect way and timing. (John 7:37-39) In order not to unduly live in the future, ask Him also to make the most of your singleness for His glory. As Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there.” (Consult Journey to Victorious Praying pages 17-38 for other ideas of responding to temptation.)

 

The Fruitfulness of Contentment

How does God desire to use you as you wait on Him for His person, timing, and will in marriage? Does He desire you to be an integral part of being a tool in His hand to revive His Church? Do you long to see His manifested presence among His people, actively at work convicting the lost and drawing men and women to Himself as well as guiding and directing His people? Ask God to use you to be a vessel to restore His church to experience His presence. God’s loving discipline is to withdraw His manifested presence in the same way that His glory departed from the temple in the Old Testament. To be sure the Holy Spirit who indwells every Christian will never leave them, but His presence can be grieved and quenched and humanly speaking God’s work is greatly hindered and His name is not adored and honored as it should be. How does God desire to use you? We all have different roles, but each of us is an important and vital part of God’s overall plan.

A single person is not only freer to pursue their vocation but also to develop friendships. The physical and emotional energy that would be expended in marriage can be channeled into relationships with other single people, married couples and families, and even children. All do have a need to love and be loved, and God is able to meet his need even in our “dark moments.”

As you respond to the Lord in your single years, you are not only giving yourself to the best preparation for marriage but also building a spiritual heritage for future generations.  Fanny Crosby was given a wrong medical treatment at six weeks of age that resulted in permanent blindness. As a child she made up her mind to store in her heart what she called the little jewel of contentment. She declared this jewel to be the “comfort of her life”.  When she was eight years old she wrote,

 

“O what a happy soul am I!

Although I cannot see,

I am resolved that in this world

Contented I will be.

 

“How many blessings I enjoy

That other people don’t.

To weep and sigh because I’m blind;

I cannot, and I won’t.”

 

Scores of people have been blessed through the legacy of hymns she has left the church, and millions have been blessed by her learning the lesson of contentment in God’s sovereign will.

Fanny Crosby married Alexander Van Alstyne when she was thirty-eight. This dear couple experienced a great loss when their only child died at a very young age. In her grief she penned the hymn “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.” A ministry borne out of a humble and contented heart bears great fruit. A carriage driver discovered her one day as his passenger and told her as he wept how they had sung “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” at his little girl’s funeral last week. Even more amazing is the testimony of seven prisoners of war who were singled out to be killed by firing squad. As the day of their death arrived, one of the prisoners began to sing “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” a song he had learned three weeks earlier. As he sung, one of the other prisoners dropped his knees and began to pray. Then all seven began to sing!  The officer was so impressed with the prisoners’ contentment and courage as they faced death that he trusted Christ as his Savior that very hour. Only God can tell what comes from a life that allows God to put His contentment into their soul.