An airline pilot flying over mountains in Tennessee pointed out a lake to his copilot. “See that little lake?” he said. “When I was a kid I used to sit in a rowboat down there, fishing. Every time a plane would fly overhead, I’d look up and wish I was flying it. Now I look down and wish I was in a rowboat, fishing.”
People were asked how much more money it would take to make them happy. The almost universal response was about twice as much as they currently had. Happiness based on things will always require more things to make us happy.
It is not in our nature to be content. Rather our natural inclination is to be discontent. One of the keys to joy is to do what the apostle Paul did when he said, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)
He learned how to be content. He did not possess a special personality trait that made him content, but he learned it in hard-knock circumstances. The word “learn” derives from the word “disciple.” It means to experience something, reflect on it, and act in a new way because of it. Jesus discipled people by challenging them to follow him around, learn by example, and experience his life. Contentment is not learned in the classroom.
Numerous television shows and movies are based on solving a mystery. Perhaps you enjoy a good mystery novel. Paul said, “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret.” (Philippians 4:12) The word “secret” derives from our English word for “mystery.”
So how do we unravel the mystery to being content? It is not abandoning godly ambition to have goals, dreams, and plans. Neither is it escaping life’s challenges by detaching ourselves to a cabin in the woods. Nor is it a complacent “Who cares!” attitude.
The misery of discontentment is optional. You cannot choose all of your circumstances, but you can choose how you react to them. You can choose to pray instead of worry.
Contentment comes not from fretting over what the future holds, but from trusting the Lord who holds your future. It is an inward sufficiency based in Jesus Christ. Yes, it is faith. “And this is the victory that overcomes the world – our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
Contentment is engaging and confronting the constant resistance to faith in the dynamic, strengthening power of being in Christ who gives us his ability.
All this leads to one of the most famous verses in the Bible. A verse found in context of how to be content in the brutal circumstances life. What’s the secret? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
Want to know more? This Sunday at 9am, I will continue the series, “How to In-Joy Life: Simple, but Difficult Steps.” Find us at BalboaBaptist.Church. Our mission is to bring all people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ and help them grow toward Christian maturity through love, prayer, worship, teaching, and service.