I don’t know about you, but things don’t usually go as I expect. Sometimes events turn out much sweeter than I anticipated–like the surprise date with my husband to the Cajun restaurant for a beautifully seasoned haddock and laughs at our own silly jokes. But often events are much, much harder–like the extended period of financial hardship.
Then I read Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians: “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 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.” (Philippians 4:11-13). And it hits me: how can we learn to live in adversity unless we experience adversity? How can we learn to be content with humble means unless we are limited to humble means? This seems so obvious when we say it out loud, yet we struggle hard to avoid the very circumstances that teach us how to be content.
Not only the humble means but the beatings, the shipwrecks, the false accusations — these too challenged Paul and eventually taught him to be content in all circumstances. Not only the financial hardship but living together in marriage, in a church body, as a parent — all of these challenge us and eventually teach us to be content in all circumstances.
The key is my eyes on Jesus and not on the circumstances. Only then does real contentment come.