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Technology has given us a closer glimpse into other people’s lives during lockdown. We have more access to their homes, families, jobs, etc, albeit virtually. We may have found ourselves comparing our lives and what we have to theirs. Consequently, envy may brew up, giving rise to discontentment. Despite all the challenges, the progress we’ve made or lack of, we can be satisfied in the present and excited about what is to come. God has foreknown the situation you’re currently in and will see you through.
The true meaning of contentment
Contentment is not a lack of ambition (see here for how to have a healthy view of ambition). It is not merely “settling for what you have”, neither is it sluggishness. Contentment is trusting in the faithfulness of God irrespective of the circumstances. This may be developed by observing the three keys to contentment: focusing on (i) who God is, (ii) what God has said and (iii) what God has done.
1. Who God is
A proper view of God’s character will reassure the troubled heart. He is our Father who, not only knows our every need, but delights in meeting them. He is a a generous God who loves to bestow good gifts upon His children.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!Matthew 7:9-11
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.James 1:17
2. What God has said
We remember what God has done alongside what He has said. As you glance around at your circumstances, you may deduce that the situation is unsatisfactory and helpless. You may feel alone, but you’re not. God hasn’t deserted you. He is present in your very situation. He is with you and will see you through. We know so because He has said so – to the children of Israel, to the persecuted believers of the early church and to you.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”Deuteronomy 31:6
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.Hebrews 13:5-6
What can mere mortals do to me?”
3. What God has done
God is not a distant being uninterested in the affairs of men and women. He is ever-present. He is involved, doing many wondrous things in our lives; grand or seemingly small. God has met your spiritual and physical needs. By His grace, you have survived a global pandemic. He has given you the health to see a new day, the means to have a roof over your head- these sound like trivial things, but their value cannot be understated. If ever in doubt of God’s activity and great providence in your life, read Psalm 103. God has:
- Forgiven David and forgiven your sins in Christ (Psalm 103:3; 1 Peter 1:3)
- Healed the diseases of the Israelites and has healed your own (Psalm 103:3).
- Repeatedly delivered David from impending death (1 Samuel 17:41-49; 1 Samuel 19-21). God has rescued you from danger, death and its power (Psalm 103:4; 1 Corinthians 15:55).
- Crowned you with His unfailing love and compassion (Psalm 103:4; Romans 8:38-39)
- Brought you true satisfaction, thus strengthening and energizing you (Psalm 103:5)
Take heart, look to God
Paul, the imprisoned apostle learned to be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-12). He looked to the opportunities his house arrest presented for the advancement of the Gospel message (Philippians 1:12-14). He continuously rejoiced (Philippians 4:4). Rather than focusing on his circumstances, He focused on the God who was able to supply all his needs and those of the Philippians (Philippians 4:19). Paul focused on who God is, what God had said and what God had done. How did Paul do all this? Through the all-sufficient strength that Christ supplies (Philippians 4:13).
We can protect ourselves from the negative effects of comparison and be contented in all situations when focusing on who God is, what He has said and what He has done. God has sent His Son so that our souls may find rest. Rest in Christ; He gives you the strength to trust in the unceasing faithfulness and sure provision of God.