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September 2009

How to be Content in a Discontented World

A friend waiting in a doctor’s waiting room was reading some of the informative posters placed on the walls. One in particular caught her eye as she was expecting her first baby. The poster said; ‘The first two minutes of life are the most critical.’ Some joker had scribbled underneath, ‘The last two are pretty dicey as well!’ I think we could add ‘what comes in between can also be very challenging!’

Some of the greatest examples of courageous living in the Bible are the stories of Daniel & his three friends. They were thrust into a pagan society entirely alien to their background and beliefs. We today live in a similar world; a world that is becoming increasingly hostile towards Christians.

Daniel and his friends withstood the great tests of their faith because they had decided in their youth that their top priority in life was not to be rich or famous, but rather to be faithful to their heavenly Father. (If you are not familiar with their stories, please read chapters 1,3 and 6 in the book of Daniel.)

Then we come to the apostle Paul in the New Testament. A man full of courage and contentment. Lets look at some words from his letter to the Philippians.

Some years ago when I was feeling a little discouraged, I read this letter, only 4 chapters, out loud in our bathroom in Texas. (The bathrooms in Texas are large and very nice.) I was greatly blessed, and I can recommend it to all who haven’t tried it before. Reading Scripture out loud to one’s self can be very inspirational.

This letter to the Philippians was written while Paul was in prison, but instead of being full of discontent and despair, we find him full of hope and joy. I am just going to pick out a few gems.

Paul was in prison. Paul’s world was continually challenging, and yet he says in chapter 4, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”. How many truly contented people do you and I know? Are we content with our lot in life or do we find ourselves discontented? Chasing after ‘things’, and full of anxiety over world events.

What was Paul’s secret weapon against ‘discontentment’? It’s found in chapter 3 where he says, ‘that I may know Him’. In another verse he talks about ‘knowing Jesus Christ my Lord’. Not just gathering information about Him, but his chief desire was to know Christ personally. The better he got to know Him, the more Paul understood about His grace and mercy, the more Paul trusted and loved his Savior.

He goes onto say, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always.’ Paul could rejoice because he realized God was using his life to witness to many about God’s amazing grace. Paul rejoiced in Christ as his Creator, and his Redeemer. He also rejoiced, through all his afflictions in life, in the Hope of the Second Coming of Christ. He continually rejoiced in God’s promise that He will never leave nor forsake us.

In other words, Praise Him! In all the trials of life, Paul could remain calm and content because he believed God’s Word.

Whether you are a new Christian or a young Christian, I can testify that this letter to the Philippians is the best prescription for peace of mind that I know. In the words of Paul, ‘May His grace and peace be yours now and always.’

Dear Father, Help us to believe unreservedly in God’s Word that we might, like Paul, learn to be content whatever the circumstances. Amen.

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