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
Are you content? Do you like where God in His sovereignty has placed you? Do you sometimes suffer from the delusion of the “Greener Grass Conspiracy?” I’m sure we all struggle at times to be content. I’m sure Paul did too. Notice that he says that he learned the secret of being content. That means that God had to put Paul in places and situations that were not ideal in order that Paul would learn how to be content. That’s just how God works. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just take a pill every morning and you would be content? It would be, but that’s not how God works. And that’s why Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) titled one of his books, “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment”- precisely because contentment is rare and it doesn’t come easy. There’s not a pill (or an app!) for it.
Burroughs describes our struggle well-
A carnal heart thinks, I must have my wants made up or else it is impossible that I should be content. But a gracious heart says, ‘What is the duty of the circumstances God has put me into? Indeed, my circumstances have changed, I was not long since in a prosperous state, but God has changed my circumstances. The Lord has called me no more Naomi, but Marah. Now what am I to do? What can I think now are those duties that God requires of me in the circumstances that he has now put me into? Let me exert my strength to perform the duties of my present circumstances.
We deceive ourselves when we think that we can only find contentment when we get our “wants.” But the gracious, Gospel-centered heart asks, “What does God want me to do where I am? What does God require of me now- in my marriage, in my parenting, in my family, in my church, in my neighborhood, in my workplace, in my city, etc?”
Instead of dreaming of wants think about the work God has for you where He has placed you. Learn to be content. When things are going well, learn. When things aren’t so great, learn. Do the things that you are called to do where God has placed you. You can do all those things because Christ strengthens you.
May God give you strength to perform the duties of your present circumstances!