Contentment.  What are some of your first thoughts when you hear that word, contentment?  Contentment means:  a state of happiness and satisfaction.  I think this is something that we all pursue all throughout our live is to be content, to be happy, and to live a life of being satisfied.  I believe it is ingrained in all of us to pursue contentment, but what is that really makes us content?

Many of us believe that growing wealth will make us content. While others believe it gaining more material things such as bigger tv’s, cars, boats, etc.  The world tells us that the one with the most toys wins.  But what happens when we pursue contentment in these ways?  It seems like a race that never ends because you cannot gather enough money or material ideas to keep you content.  Once you get a bigger tv, you want a bigger one.  Once you get more money, you want more?  Does that seem like a life of contentment? 

One thing that I have been thinking about recently is this idea of contentment and how it relates to the different circumstances in my life.  You know what I mean.  When something comes up that changes the plans that I’ve made how do I stay content?  When everyone else seems to be thriving and I am not, how do I stay content?  Because when content begins to disappear, discontent rises up in your life.

I think we can find contentment if we look for it in the right places.  Even in those circumstances that arise in your life that could take you off track you can continue to be content and satisfied.  We are all aware of the Apostle Paul and all he went through once he became a Christian.  If you know his story, once he became probably the most famous evangelist for Jesus all these different circumstances started to come upon him.  He was shipwrecked, thrown in jail, beaten and then was afflicted with some kind of physical thing that began to drive him a little crazy.  But through all these different circumstance he found the secret to being content.  In Philippians 4:10-13 it tells us

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances12 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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Wouldn’t you like to learn that? Not, “I’m happy about my circumstances.” Not, “I wouldn’t change ‘em if I could.”  But to be content in this way means I’ve learned to be self-sufficient in the sense of being able to resist the force/pressure/temptation brought on by circumstances. Something inside will dictate my response to what’s going on outside.

Before we talk about the secret I want you to think about what hung in balance of Paul’s willingness to endure hardship a divinely appointed hardship:  the church.  His response to adversity gave him and his message credibility. It was from that vantage point that he impacted the world.

You have no idea what or who hangs in the balance of your response to your circumstances that occur in your life.  You know, when there is nothing you can do about the circumstance. 

Then Paul gives us the secret, the how, the most famous quoted passage in the Bible, I can do all this through him who gives me strength.  It is as if he was given the keys that unlocked contentment no matter what was going on around him.  He tells us has the power, the personal resources required, to endure and press on anyway, through prison, abandonment and fear.  But the power and strength was given to him by Christ who empowers us and who gives us the strength to endure.

This is not a picture of a cheerleader showing a banner of this verse to a crowd and cheering.  But it is a picture of Paul realizing that he could not endure these circumstances that arose in his life but through the strength Christ had available to him he could.  It was like he was saying, “I can’t, I’ve reached the ends of my reserves, but He can.”  Christ didn’t opt out of the tension, but went to the cross on my behalf. He can through me. I learned to rely on his strength in me.

Maybe this might be the secret that leads to contentment for you.  To begin to say, “I can’t, but Jesus can.”  “I can’t, but He can.”  The secret is Christ living in you, and empowering you.