There’s a tendency to postpone contentment or to explain away why we don’t have it right now. The condition is so common that it’s got its own street name: the “Greener Grass Syndrome.”
Sometimes the good life is almost within grasp, just the other side of a 5% raise.
Or it’s in that house just across town, the pretty one with 500 more square feet and the fenced-in back yard and the better school district and less traffic. Yep, I’d be content there, I know I would.
Sometimes it’s got a chronological component . . .I’ll be happy when I get these kids out of diapers. If your kids are out of diapers, maybe you’re looking forward to when they go to school.
And so on.
At some point, or so I’m told, you live long enough to realize that you should’ve just enjoyed the good days you had instead of thinking they were just past the next milestone.
That’s why Paul always challenges me. He doesn’t let me sit here and justify my restlessness with feeble excuses about the life I wish I had.
He says it plainly: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11).
The key is in what he writes two verses below, a verse that’s become so popular as to lose some of its value, I’m afraid.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
I suppose those words of Paul have been crocheted and hung on more walls than perhaps any verse of Scripture. Everybody can quote them, but do we know what they mean? Contrary to popular opinion, they don’t mean you can do anything you set your mind to, that God will always give you the strength to do whatever you choose.
What they mean is right there in the paragraph. Jesus Christ will give you the strength to be content regardless of what’s going on around you.
Understanding that is crucial. No matter how hard you try, you won’t have contentment aside from the power of Jesus Christ. But it’s also true that he’s not going to force it down your throat either . . . there’s the “I can do” part as well.
So where do you stand today? Is your contentment just around the corner? Paul tells us to stop making excuses, turn our lives completely over to Jesus, and he’ll give it to us.
There’s some pretty bad stuff going on in our world right now, but I suppose it’ll always be that way. We’ve got to choose to submit everything we have—including our disposition—to the one who saved us. —Chuck