I have just found this to be true, once again of our awesome God.
A current struggle for me is stress and frustration at everyday things, and the people I love most. A big part of this is that I have let the business of life take me away from spending time with The Giver of Life.
In trying to heal that connection, I haven't found it easy to just "jump back into the Bible", and, though I have been talking to Him more (in the moments I have throughout the day), I've still struggled with "What do I do right Now? Why do I feel like this? Where do I turn?"
Philip is working late tonight, and I found myself drawn to journal (how retro in our twittering, blogging, texting world)... and was surprised and overwhelmed at what poured out onto the pages.
I knew He was calling me. I wasn't even sure exactly where my Bible was. But that didn't matter. I was drawn to a link I remembered seeing on a friend's website, and... tada - the devotional for yesterday was:
The Secret of Contentment
*I've bolded the parts that really spoke to me, maybe this will speak to one of you out there too.
Micca Monda Campbell
"…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" Philippians 4:11b (NIV)
Have you ever noticed how overextending yourself tends to bring unwanted pressure into your life? I think we tend to busy ourselves in order to gain more, find acceptance among peers, land a better position, and gain riches of all kinds. Perhaps we live under the illusion that having such riches is what makes a person complete, content, and deliriously happy. Yet, when we discover that's not the case, we're left feeling empty and discontent.
Contentment and security are not found in career titles or in the kind of car we own. The logo on our car only tells others what kind of car we drive — not who we are. True satisfaction, in its purest form, is found in the wealth of who God is and the riches He graciously lavishes upon us.
Recently God's been showing me that when I constantly want more than He has given me, it reflects a heart that is discontent. What I'm saying to God is, "I'm not satisfied with what You have provided for me. I want more." In wanting more, I place undo pressure on myself in an attempt to get what God hasn't provided. Naturally, anxiety is the result when I focus on things other than God and His will for my life.
The pressure to have more and do more can lead us down paths we never intended. In our attempt to fill the vacuum of our empty souls, we discover that external luxury is only a cheap substitution for spiritual wholeness. As our key verse points out, Paul knew the secret of finding contentment. "…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."
Take note that Paul wrote these words in a high stress situation as he sat in jail awaiting a verdict for a crime he didn't commit. I don't know if I could find contentment if I were in his sandals. I would probably strum my wooden cage with a rock singing pitifully, "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen. Nobody knows my sorrow." Finding contentment doesn't mean we have to like our current situation, but it may require an appreciation for it. Let me explain.
Paul learned that the fruit of contentment is developed when we are thankful for what God has provided whether we like it or not. That's because peace isn't the absence of pressure. It's the presence of God and our attitude toward His provision in the midst of our stress. By expressing gratitude, Paul experienced richness of being, not having.
I realize you may be in a hard place right now and you're longing for freedom. Maybe you're in a job that feels like a dead end; perhaps you have two of them! It may be that you live in a space too small for your family and you hate it. You're not where you planned or hoped to be and you certainly don't like it.
The truth is, we don't have to like where we are or what we have, but if we will choose to thank God for His provisions regardless of our feelings toward them, we'll experience the same contentment Paul encountered.
We must understand that being thankful doesn't mean that God will eventually remove us from our situation. He may; He may not. Rather, being appreciative sets us free from the desire to have and lets us rest in the riches of contentment. And when we reach a place of contentment, we don't need earthly riches galore. God becomes our greatest treasure. In Him, we have everything we need.