“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13, NIV).
We will never know true contentment and peace without God in our life. Nothing on this earth can offer such peace–no possession, no person, no joyful anticipation. Only God promises the deepest peace which comes from abiding trust in His faithfulness. It is a peace that surpasses circumstantial contentment when all feels right with the world. God's peace is the peace we know when all is not right in our world. When the circumstances of life speak despair and fear, His perfect will is for us to know the greatest peace in spite of what rages.
Paul said that he had learned to be content in every circumstance. He didn't want to be in prison, and he certainly didn't want to be dependent on others to provide for his needs. He longed to be out of jail, but no matter what he faced, he was content. Nothing in the world made Paul content. His contentment came from his deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God gave him peace, and with that peace a purpose to fulfill. His incarceration could not stop him from trusting in God to meet all his needs. His chains could not keep him from writing of God's great goodness. He had learned the secret of being content in every circumstance. In allowing the Lord to define his well-being instead of his surroundings to discourage and control him–in allowing the Lord to use him completely no matter what His circumstance, Paul discovered the power which accompanies such surrender, and the joy of a spiritual fulfillment that nothing in the world offers.
We often discover that many things are just impossible. We can't find contentment and peace because of our circumstances. Struggling doesn't help. Anger only makes our circumstances worse. We long for peace, but can't seem to grasp it. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart,” Jesus said the night before His crucifixion, “and the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27, NLT). This is a peace that passes our understanding, and comes with the surrender of our attempt at controlling what God wishes to control (Philippians 4:6-7). When we seek to know God as intimately as Paul, we can give Him all that rages, and take refuge in Him. Paul's life reveals that is it absolutely possible to have peace and contentment when we trust God. The “roller coaster” circumstances of our life can become as a quiet gentle wave upon the shore–never eroding the contentment and peace that God has bestowed. When we have God's peace, we believe that no weapon can defeat. We face faithfully and peacefully everything that comes against us, because Jesus Christ gives us the strength to accomplish it.