Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m not one to run out and jump on the latest trend or pine over the newest gadget. But the Kindle Fire is cool – like an iPad for half the bucks. One of those would be nice. I could see saving my pennies and getting one someday. And I’m cool with someday. Or I was until I looked around and realized EVERYONE has one. I am not kidding. Grannies. Old guys who don’t even use cell phones. Kids. LITTLE kids. Triplet toddlers, each one drooling on their own.
I’m a little disgruntled about this. Yes, I could scrape up $200 meant for something more important and just get one and leave envy behind, have my toy and be happy like Grannie and the droolers. Or I could quit wishing I had something cool just because others have it, listen to the wisdom of the Apostle Paul and cultivate contentment.
Okay, Paul wasn’t talking about gadgets, so let’s get real. This is about a spiritual state, a calm in the midst of a storm, resting in peace when circumstances stir up anything but peace. Loss of a loved one. Health issues. True shortage, like a job loss. A broken relationship.
Recently, I shared some thoughts on contentment with our Wednesday night Bible class and asked people what it would take for them to feel content. Absence of stress? More money? Less poundage? Better friends? A more understanding mate?
Unfortunately, putting all our expectations or our need for fulfillment on people or stuff or circumstances will lead to discontent because eventually circumstances will go awry, or our health will fail, or people will let us down. The only one who won’t fail us is Jesus. He’s the only one who gives us what can’t be taken away.
We live in a world that breeds discontent. Think about magazine ads, movies, TV, commercials. Advertising is carefully designed to make us unhappy with everything we have: our job, wardrobe, figure, finances, car, spouse, home. You name it: anything you have, marketing pros are hard at work to convince you it’s not good enough.
When discontent is allowed to thrive, we find ourselves becoming resentful and dissatisfied and if that goes on, it leads to depression. Not only that, it can lead to something far more serious. Satan feeds on our discontent because it’s contrary to God’s design. God in his love and and artistry created us to experience joy and delight, and ultimately, He wants us to find our joy and delight in Him. Remember the Garden of Eden? Satan suggested to Eve that God was holding out something better from her, planting a seed of discontent in her heart. Discontent is really the fruit of something else:
Sadly, God is so faithful and doesn’t deserve that. When we grumble and complain about our situation or what we don’t have, it’s like we’re accusing God of not taking care of us, or saying he doesn’t really know what we need. Eve’s discontent led her to sin. And we are in danger of the same.
God is always good and always trustworthy. We may not understand what’s going on when we’re in a tough spot, but we can always trust that God will do what’s right. He promises to provide for us. He also knows what we face. He knows all about evil bosses and stubborn kids and imperfect mates and overdue bills and health problems and all the things that we can’t control. He knows where we are and he’s not a bit surprised.
Just a thought to consider: in our turmoil, we might be exactly where he wants us. And no matter where we are—even if we’re in prison like Paul—the Word of God calls us to be content.
Let’s look at Philippians 4:4-13
4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
At the time Paul wrote this, he was a prisoner in a Roman jail. Probably not the most ideal situation. Yet he was content. Where did his contentment come from? Political popularity? Living the American dream? A competitive retirement package? No. Go back a chapter and look at Phil 3:7-8.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.
Paul found his greatest gain, his greatest treasure in knowing Christ Jesus as Lord. He didn’t blame anyone for his circumstances. He found peace with his lot in life no matter what his life looked like.
With or without a Kindle Fire.
How are you doing? Do you battle with discontent? Have you ever dealt with the depression that comes from being in those hard circumstances outside your control? If so, have you been able to overcome it?