No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content” (Ecclesiastes 1:8, NLT).
Self can be a dangerous thing. There is always something better or bigger. Our eyes see that there is more to be had. Our ears hear others speak of their possessions or achievements. We strive to reach what is never enough, and become defeated because we are never satisfied. “I know what it is to be in need,” Paul wrote, “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” (Philippians 4:12, NIV).
Paul's contentment came from a surrendered heart. He had learned to surrender the things that his eyes saw and his ears heard. He had learned to surrender self and self’s never ending wish list. He didn’t need to be recognized by others for sacrificing himself for the sake of Christ. He knew where he stood in his relationship with Jesus. There was nothing to prove or show. He also trusted God in whatever circumstance he found himself. Of course he didn't want to be in prison, and he certainly didn't want to be dependent on others to provide for his needs. But, no matter what he faced, he was content. His eyes were not on what He was around him, but upon His Savior. God gave him peace, and a purpose to fulfill. Fulfilling His purpose only strengthened Paul's peace no matter what happened in his life. His incarceration could not stop him from trusting God to meet all his needs. His chains could not keep him from his purpose to write of God's great goodness. He had learned the secret of being content in every circumstance.
Our peace and contentment comes from a deep abiding trust in God. When our circumstances are good, we might “feel” good, and “feel” that everything is fine. Then life throws us a curve ball, and we can’t find contentment and peace. We look at our circumstance, and don’t focus on God’s promise to take care of us. God. Struggling against that circumstance doesn't help. Railing at God doesn't help. In fact this makes our discontent and unrest worse. But there is a peace that passes our human understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). God waits for surrender of our control. He waits for our trust. When we give Him all that rages and take refuge in Him, He lifts us from a place of self-centered worry and concern to His place of peace. We will know peace and contentment when we trust God.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you,” Jesus said. “I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27, NIV). I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NIV). His peace is not dependent upon what the world or circumstances offer. We may have trouble in this life, but we do not need to fear. He has overcome whatever we face. When we seek Him and surrender all our desires for what He offers, we discover His peace no matter what life presents. We can boldly face whatever is to come with His peace and His purpose. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength,” Paul wrote (Philippians 4:19, NLT). Just as Paul, we can rise to our calling. All things are possible when we have His strength and His peace.
Lynn Hampton Lacher