Have you ever felt dissatisfied with your life? Perhaps you were frustrated and thought… If I only had just a little bit more money, … or a bigger house, … or if only I got that promotion at work…. It’s easy to slip into thinking that “more” will make us happy.
What is contentment?
When people are content, they have a peaceful satisfaction in life. They are not obsessed with pursuing “more” possessions or status. Their focus creates a quietness of mind and soul.
The Apostle Paul wrote about contentment in his letter to the Philippians. He was writing from prison where he would have been responsible for his own necessities like decent food or warm clothing. The Philippian church sent a financial gift to Paul to help with any needs. After praising God for their concern, Paul wrote,
“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:11-13).
Paul shared he had learned to be content with whatever he had regardless of his situation. He accepted the things he could not change. Paul learned to be content whether his stomach was full or empty and whether he had plenty to live on or very little.
How can we learn to be content?
If the Apostle Paul talks about learning contentment, then finding contentment is a process. What can we do when we begin to feel unsatisfied with our possessions or situation in life? How can we learn to be content?
1. Thank God for specific blessings in your life.
“I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High” (Psalm 9:1-2).
Develop a grateful attitude by reflecting on God’s specific blessings in your life and thanking Him for each one: a roof over your head, dinner on the table, warm clothes to wear, or a job. Be grateful and give thanks for your loved ones. Have you felt the cool breeze on your face on a hot summer day or gazed at the bright stars in the dark night sky? We can praise our Heavenly Father for the spiritual blessings of His mercy and grace. Count your blessings and name them one by one.
2. Change your focus.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the LORD always, for the LORD GOD is the eternal Rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4).
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah teaches us to focus on our Lord. When our minds start churning with the unfairness of life or the difficulties we face, we can turn our focus and meditate on our Creator’s love and trustworthiness. It’s also important not to compare ourselves with others, whether it’s material possessions, financial status, or our personal abilities.
3. Ask yourself, What is important in life and what isn’t?
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16:11).
Another way to ask this question is, What has eternal value and what does not? How important in the eternal scheme of life is wearing a certain label of clothing or clinging to a powerful position of worldly authority?
In contrast, our relationship with God is eternal. His presence and joy are always with us. Prayer and immersing ourselves in God’s Word deepens an eternal relationship. Other people are valuable because they, too, are eternal.
4. Pray about what is causing you to be discontent.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Perhaps what is causing you to be discontent involves something that does need to be changed. Pray and share your heart with God. Ask Him to give you wisdom if a change needs to be made. If circumstances are beyond your control, leave the details in God’s hands.
Each new day brings its own challenges, and we will need to learn to practice contentment in new situations in which we find ourselves. But when we develop a grateful spirit and focus on what has eternal value in this world, we will develop a peaceful satisfaction with our lives and find a quietness of mind and soul.
Learn more about accepting the things you cannot change in last week’s blog, where Courage For Life’s founder and executive director, Ann White, shares her journey toward true contentment.