“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”Philippians 4:11
My young granddaughter and I were on the log ride at Six Flags. She was smiling and enjoying herself as we were rocking along in the flume. But when the flume turned a corner and she saw the tall mountain in front of her, she said, “Memaw, I’m ready to get off now!”
I sometimes feel like that, don’t you? Maybe you’re saying, “I want the chemo to stop” or “I want to stop searching for a job” or “I want to stop struggling financially.” As we rock along through life, how can we be content when difficulties arise? The dictionary describes contentment as “a state of happiness or satisfaction.” Contentment seems elusive when life takes unexpected twists and turns.
The apostle Paul experienced great suffering (2 Corinthians 11:24-27). But despite his many difficulties, Paul said he knew the secret of contentment (Philippians 4:11-13). How could Paul be content while suffering? Paul learned to be content. Paul’s experiences made him stronger as He learned God gave Him strength through each problem. What can we learn to help us be content in our difficult situations?
Have you ever done a “Connect the Dots” worksheet? As you look for the next number, your pencil goes across the page, then the next number sends your pencil in another direction. When you look at the final result, there’s a clear picture from what seemed to be nothing but random lines. Life can be like that circuitous line. One minute I’m here; then the next minute I’m there. One day God will make all things clear. He asks us to trust Him through situations that don’t make sense (Romans 8:28).
Life can be good in the morning and ugly by the afternoon—the meeting at work, the car wreck, the depression. Like a loving earthly father who holds our hand, God, our loving heavenly Father, does the same. We can trust Him to go through every situation with us (John 16:33).
If you’ve ever started a new exercise regimen, the first days are very difficult. Your body is sore, and you must push yourself to exercise. As you continue the routine, one day you notice you’re stronger and your discomfort has lessened. In the same way, God makes us stronger as we undergo challenging situations. Although the difficulty might not change, little-by-little we are able to withstand the loneliness, the rude boss, the financial burdens, or the ungrateful child (Philippians 4:13).
Contentment is possible when I rest in God’s plan, not mine. Life isn’t always easy, but we become stronger through each difficult situation as we let God infuse us with His strength. Sometimes we will feel like a child on a log ride headed up a scary mountain, but God is faithful and strong, and He can be trusted.