I think we all struggle to be content in general, and in all circumstances. I know I do. When Drew and I were paying off our student loans and living on a tight budget, I fought for contentment and tried not to compare our spending habits and/or possessions to others.
While I knew it wasn’t true, it’s almost like in the back of my mind I thought I needed to pursue contentment while our budget was tight but that I’d find it much easier to be content once we had more resources to spend. As if once I had more clothes money, “fun money,” newer furniture, more budget for eating out, etc. contentment would come naturally.
Since paying off our last loan in August 2016, we get to keep roughly $2,500/month rather than put the money towards loans. We’ve increased most of our budget categories and I’ve enjoyed being able to eat out more, “spruce up” my wardrobe, etc.
I’m so grateful our loans are behind us and we have more financial margin, but I wouldn’t say this has changed the need to constantly pursue contentment.
The past few weeks I’ve been shopping for new clothes. Again, super grateful to have the resources for this, but I’ve found myself getting more excited about other things to buy than appreciating what I was getting. It’s like the outfits I looked forward to buying when we were budgeting have been added to my wardrobe, I’m excited for a moment, and then off to the next thing.
So what’s the point of this post? I think it’s so important to pursue contentment in all seasons. It’s a battle worth fighting in seasons of little and plenty. There will always be more out there to want. Even when Drew and I had a tight budget, we were so fortunate and had all we needed to be content.
What’s the secret of being content? Check out Paul’s approach from Philippians:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
Paul’s speaking to the church in Philippians who’ve given generously to support him being in full time ministry to spread the gospel throughout the world. He truly learned how to be brought low (imprisonments, severe beatings, lacking physical provision, etc.) and still be content.
Talk about a difference between my discontentment of not getting as much Starbucks or that new outfit vs. lacking true needs like Paul. Regardless of the circumstance, he learned how to be content.
I like how “learned” is used twice in these verses because it gives me hope that we can grow in our pursuit of contentment, too.
Paul reveals the secret to contentment in vs. 13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
We find contentment through fixing our eyes and hearts on Jesus in all circumstances. Personally, when I was in our time of “need” I found my contentment sitting still in prayer and asking God to help me find contentment in all circumstances, to help me resist comparing myself to others and wanting what they had. Now in our time of “plenty,” I’m asking God for the same. I still need His help to find the same peace with little or plenty.
Practically speaking, I remind myself and pray through these truths:
- Earth is my temporary home; my purpose isn’t to accumulate a bunch of stuff
- Christ is my true joy, not image or physical appearance
- Nothing on earth can bring true, lasting contentment, only Christ
It’s amazing the joy and freedom I find when I slow down, think through what’s going on in my heart, and realign to the big picture.
These truths replace negative thoughts and lies I may otherwise be believing.
The best part is, the pressure’s not on me in all of this. The Holy Spirit brings these things to mind and empowers me to replace lies with Truth.
So there you have it: the secret to contentment is Jesus. No circumstance brings true and/or lasting contentment without Him, but contentment and peace can be found in all circumstances through Him. Paul’s story is proof, and this truth helps me renew my mind daily.
Can you relate to any of this? I’d love to hear your thoughts, below!