In Philippians 4: 12, Paul makes a profound statement that I have often pondered, especially when I find myself complaining about insignificant circumstances that are really beyond my control. He says, “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.”
What does it really mean to be content? One dictionary meaning of the word is: quietly satisfied and happy. Happy; joyful; content in all circumstances – I think this must be what Paul meant by content for just a few verses earlier he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again; Rejoice!” Doesn’t that sound like a man who was happy and joyful?
It makes me wonder why we, who have so much, are often so unhappy. I think it must be because we are often so ungrateful. I do not mean to say that there are not times when we suffer through trials and have seasons of sorrow, but many times we are simply unhappy about things that are unimportant in the light of eternity. Everyday circumstances, trials that are common to all men, sometimes leave us grumbling.
We take so much for granted and expect even more. We are blessed beyond measure, and still we grumble. There is an old hymn that frequently comes to mind when my heart is content – and sometimes it comes to mind when my heart has forgotten – Count Your Many Blessings. When I begin to count my blessings and name the things for which I have to be thankful, I find the list is endless, and the longer I count the happier I feel. Unlike Paul, never have I really been needy; never have I really been hungry; and never have I really been living in want, and yet sometimes I still struggle with remaining content. However, I know that a grateful heart is a joyful heart, so I need not stay in an unhappy state for long because I have blessings beyond measure for which to be thankful and it leaves me “singing as the days go by”.