I find the idea of contentment to be a paradox. If I feel content, I fear I won’t be motivated to do anything. Conversely, if I don’t feel content, I fear I will try to fill the void with whatever is appealing. A wise guide I know would say I am “hooked on the horns of a dilemma” – damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
So, how do we begin to understand contentment? How do we move out of black and white thinking and grow to the point where we are able to simply be content? In the Bible, the apostle Paul says that we are to “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (Thessalonians 5:16-18). In another letter, Paul goes on to say “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). In Hebrews, we are told to “keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
God’s wants us to experience gratitude and be content in every situation. I find it easy to have gratitude and contentment when I am sitting on the beach, watching my kids play in the surf. I find it more challenging to have gratitude and contentment when my children’s behavioral issues impact my life and career. When things aren’t going the way that I believe they should, then I have trouble praising God. What if I changed the belief that causes me this distress (i.e., raising children should be easy and they should be well behaved)? What if, instead, I surrendered that belief to God and I thanked God for growing my patience and tolerance?
Trusting in God’s will is at the root of contentment. Discover the belief you hold that is causing you stress and surrender it to God. Trust that God is with you always, especially during the challenging times. Accept the challenges and even thank God for his promise that he will never leave you. In other words, simply be content. – Bill Ernstrom, Director of Operations