Being content

Sometimes I feel dissatisfied.

Usually, there is no good reason.  After all, I have everything: I am a child of God, I have a loving wife and family, my wife and I are financially comfortable,  and we are in good health.

But sometimes I focus on the negative – guilt and regrets – basically, dissatisfaction with myself.

Occasionally, a modest success makes me want more.

I know I am not alone in these feelings.

The writer of Ecclesiastes even went so far as to say in Ecclesiastes 1:1: “Everything is meaningless.”  I do not share his opinion, but it does show extreme dissatisfaction with life.

However, the apostle Paul took a different view.  In Philippians 4:11, he says: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

I have been thinking about why Paul could be content and the writer of Ecclesiastes could be so discontented.

I think part of the answer is that Paul believed everything comes from God’s hand or is within God’s plan.  He says in Romans 8:28: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose.”

In other words, today is God’s gift to me – whatever it brings.  As the Psalmist says in Psalm 118: 24: “This is the day the Lord has made;  let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

So, I am to live in the moment, being content with my circumstances.

But I think there is more to Paul’s attitude than passive contentment.

The apostle says in one of my favourite passages in the scriptures:  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

These are active decisions – deciding to be joyful, praying, and giving thanks.  God wants us to be joyful and thankful.  We can actually decide to be that way.

Once in a while, I take that advice to heart.  I did that this morning as I walked in the cool sunshine under a cloudless sky.

I saw the fallen leaves and thanked God that the leaves will provide  nutrients for the soil.  I thanked God for the sun which provides warmth and life.  I thanked God for giving man the genius to design the cars that whizzed by me.

Looking at the world through the glasses of gratitude does give me a lift.

I stop looking at myself and start looking at what God has given me.


1 comment so far

  1. Caroline on

    I heard of some tragic news today…I pray to the Lord that the two brothers whose lives would be changed, yet again, would know the love of God to:
    “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

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