”Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” (Philippians 4:11-13 Msg)Interesting that Paul connected contentment with "the One who makes me who I am". Seems that contentment may be another aspect of identity. Who we are often has a major impact on contentment. Paul understood that his relationship with Jesus superseded his circumstances. He knew that contentment is found in being and not doing. Often we relegate “seeking the Lord” as an activity that we pursue daily instead of a relationship we live out minute by minute. I have become very frustrated when I make seeking the Lord a project. When it is an extension of my relationship with Him I really enjoy seeking and pursuing after His purposes. I guess true contentment is only found in our relationship to Jesus ... any other contentment is temporary.
It was the summer of 1988. Things were normal. Life seemed to be "a piece of cake". I was being considered for a new position within my company and I was sure that I would get it. Things looked good and suddenly the bottom dropped out - someone else got the position. In hindsight it seems very trivial … after all I still had a job. Sure my ego was bruised - so what. Well the “what” is prayer. Great man of faith that I am … after a period of comlaining, I began to pray about my situation - and God began to talk. He told me that my problem involved contentment. Sure I wasn't content with my job but it was only because I knew that my future lied with that "other" job ... the future is always someplace else when we are not content. I continued to pray and God continued to talk to me about being content. I worked on being content with my job. Then God said something to me that created a change in my life. He told me that though I was not content with what I did, I was very content with who I was ... and I no longer pursued Him in prayer. You see, if you are content with yourself, you don't have to change ... you don't have to be a seeker. I realized that I had the whole thing reversed - God wanted to bring about change in my life as I sought him in prayer. He wanted to bring contentment with things through a discontentment with my spiritual life. Here is what the apostle Paul wrote while imprisoned in Rome: