As many of you regular readers know, I have been learning that in life God teaches us 2 lessons:
- You are not enough.
- In Jesus you will always have enough.
I gave that same message again this morning at Forestdale Community Church in Malden. Afterwards one of the people I talked to after the service asked a very thoughtful question: have I found contentment? I thought that was a very good question to ponder in light of all the change and challenges I have been going through. How does contentment work into seasons when things are not going how you thought they would, or how you want them too? How does contentment figure into things when you find yourself traversing the darker, murkier, or arid places in life? I think contentment is definitely something God has been teaching me. Here are some of my thoughts…
I think contentment is something that you are constantly learning. I think there is a sense in which we are always in the process of learning it. That said, I think the more we come to grips with the facts that we are not enough and that Jesus is enough the more content we will be in our circumstances, whatever they may be. That I think gets to the core of what the biblical idea od contentment means, namely that having Jesus is enough—not matter what else we may lack. When Paul says in Philippians 4:11 (NIV), I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances, I think he is expressing that contentment has become a regular pattern in his mindset about his life. The more we grow in faith, humility, and dependence on God, the more easily we will grow in contentment. Paul certainly experienced a plethora of experiences through which God grew a gigantic harvest of those fruits. Yet there is a difference between having learned to be content whatever the circumstances and having learned everything there is to learn about what it means to be content. Would Paul really agree that he was ever done learning contentment? I do not think Paul means to say he had perfected contentment in this life.
I have been learning that divine contentment is not so much about a willingness to accept undesirable circumstances (although there is that) as much as it is about a growing realization that having Jesus and joining Him in the work of His kingdom is worth it not matter what your present circumstances may be.