June 24, 2018

Learning Contentment

Philippians 4:10-11

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

—  Philippians 4:11

Sometimes we have the pleasure of meeting a Christian who exudes calm, peace, and contentment even though they are living with limitations or ailments that are difficult and painful. Or maybe they have faced heart-wrenching tragedy in the past—and yet there they are, almost serene in their faith and utterly joyful on every level.

When we see such people, we sometimes conclude that God must have wired them really well. We figure that such people must have been born sunny-side up with a personality and disposition that lends itself to a contented nature. But if we think that way, we are usually wrong. Talk to such folks long enough, and you will discover what Paul wrote to the Philippians: contentment is a learned behavior. You are not born with it. It does not come easily for anyone. But by grace we grow, we learn, we mature. And as we do, contentment becomes a way of life.

But it is not inevitable. Many of us know someone who got trapped by their suffering long ago. They turned inward and curdled into an angry, resentful person.

None of us can avoid some ­level of pain, hardship, or deprivation in life. Our prayer is that when we face difficult times, we can learn what Paul learned over the long haul: a contentment anchored in Christ.

Some days, dear God, we confess that our needs seem to outnumber our resources. But whatever the day brings, in the end, help us to be content and joyful in you. In Christ, Amen.

About the author — Scott Hoezee

Scott Hoezee is an ordained minister in the Christian Reformed Church who served two congregations before joining the faculty at Calvin Theological Seminary in 2005 as the director of its Center for Excellence in Preaching. He is the author of numerous books, reviews, and articles, and he is a cohost of the radio program Groundwork, a sister-program of Today devotional. He is married to Rosemary Apol, and they have two adult children and a Boston terrier named Chester.

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