I have learned to be content regardless of circumstances. I know what it is to be in want, and I know what it is to have more than enough. (Philippians 4:11,12)
Very often I read and hear people equating happiness an contentment. I do not believe they are equitable. I’ll take a moment to explain.
Happiness is a momentary emotion; it is tied to emotion and, as such, cannot last. Contentment, on the other hand, is long-lasting; it is tied to an orientation of the mind and will last so long as the mind’s orientation lasts. The differences are so great that many volumes have been written comparing these two aspects of human nature.
In this week’s teaching, I wish to explore how God, our Beloved Abba, leads us towards contentment and what that does to our views of the world and of Heaven.
Before we proceed, it is important to understand contentment is learned. This opinion is supported by Scripture, as we read in 1 Timothy 6:6, when Rav Sha’ul teaches his protégé, Timothy, Now true religion does bring great riches, but only to those who are content with what they have. As Paul helps Timothy realize, there is deliberate choice in being content. I believe Yahweh has allowed us to make the decision of being content voluntarily; He will not make us content, we must choose to be content.
I point to Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul, who, while in prison facing trumped-up charges, wrote about his contentment. What in the world would compel this prisoner held in the most miserable of conditions, to feel content with his life? His response to the question is succinct and poignant, I can do all things through him who gives me power. (Philippians 4:13) Paul has surrendered himself to God, the Supreme Ruler, and is leaning on His power.
This, then, is the first step in reaching true contentment – Focus on Adonai Elohim and submit to His Will. King David knew the contentment which comes with submission, as he wrote in Psalm 40 – Doing your will, my God, is my joy. Yes, there is joy in submitting to God’s will and receiving His power. Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, freely and joyfully surrendered His will for that of His Father, as we read in John 5:19 – Yes, indeed! I tell you that the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing.
There was a story published in Readers’ Digest some years ago about a farmer in the Ukraine, who came to his rabbi complaining about his family’s plight. “There are nine of us living in our small house,” the farmer complained, “and it is unbearable!” “Go home,” said his rabbi, “and bring the goat into your house for a week.” At the end of the week, the farmer returned and, when asked how life was, replied, “We are miserable, the goat is dirty and smells. We cannot stand it.” The rabbi then told the man, “Now go home, take the goat back to the paddock and come back to me in a week.” After a week, the farmer returned and reported to the rabbi his family was content with their life. You may draw your own moral conclusions from this story; mine is – our perspectives of life help frame our level of contentment.
This, for me, is the second step in reaching true contentment – Focus on Adonai Elohim and serve Him with joy. Once more, in the Psalms, we receive a directive to serve our Beloved God with joy – Shout for joy to Adonai, all the earth! Serve Adonai with gladness. Enter his presence with joyful songs. (Psalm 100:1,2) Turning our perspectives to Him, instead of our own wants and desires, fills our days with gladness – we know we are serving the Ruler of the universe and the Lover of our souls. Is there a higher purpose in our lives?
Let’s return to Rav Sha’ul a moment and read his words once more, from Philippians 4: I have learned to be content regardless of circumstances. I know what it is to be in want, and I know what it is to have more than enough. I can do all things through him who gives me power. What Paul has learned, through his being with Adonai Yeshua and Adonai Yeshua being with him is, simply, contentment comes when we trust Yahweh, our Supreme Ruler, to supply all we need to be His children.
Beloved, we do have choices. We can choose to chase after an elusive ‘happiness’, which we may never catch, or focus on being content in our relationship with the Ruler of the Universe and the Lover of our Souls.
CONSIDER: Are you content in your current life? Do you feel secure in the Love and Grace supplied by our Beloved Abba? Do you feel His power in you, to accomplish what He has asked you to do?
ACT: If you have answered no to any of these questions, then you have some hard choices to make (or easy choices – perspective is everything). What is more important to you? Make your choice or it will be made for you and you may not like the result.
PRAY: Beloved Abba, I come to you, your humble child, seeking to find contentment in my life. Help me to understand what is meant by submitting to Your will, serving You with joy and leaning on You for everything I need. In Your Beloved Name, I pray.
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.