Friday, May 23, 2008

Yesterday's Bible trivia in a yahoo group I'm in was taken from Philipians 4:11-12. Paul writes, "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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."

Was Paul some kind of superhero that he could do this? Did he just have such a reign on his emotions that he found it easy to be so even-keeled?

What challenges do you face in remaining content? How do you remain content in joy and in times of trouble? What's the secret? Who's the secret? Is it us or Jesus? How do you define contentment? Is it a feeling or a state of being? Is it based on the state of your heart and mind or is it based on where your heart is focused?

Paul was far from a superhero. He was human, merely a mortal, just like the rest of us. I believe that as a man he was probably more level-headed (read hormonally free) from acting on emotions, as I know I am prone to do as a woman. Paul faced some majors ups and major downs in his life as an apostle of Christ. If asked, I doubt he would say it was easy to remain so even-keeled. In fact, throughout his letters he showed us that he did indeed have a temper. He did become down. He was beaten and imprisoned for Christ. He was bitten by a snake! He was sick with fever. He sewed tents for a living. His duties weren't preaching 3 sermons a week and feeding one flock. He shephereded many and traveled extensively to do so.
I face many challenges in remaining content, but like the apostle Paul, I have Jesus on my side. Whether I am high on the mountaintop or in the throws of depression, I am content, or rather, I should say that I have the potential to become content.

To me it's all about Jesus. Looking up when I am feeling down. Looking up when I'm feeling up. Looking within to my heart where He dwells.

It's easy to be content when times are good, but truth be told, it's hard to be content all the time. I do believe there are some things we can do that can help us *learn* to be content. During the tough times we can:

Breathe. Psalm 39:5 reminds us, " You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Selah" Sometimes we just forget to breathe. Taking a deep breath re-fills our lungs and sends oxygen to our brains, clearing our thoughts, reminding us that God has us in His hands.

Focus. Isaiah 26:3 directs us, "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Focusing on Christ as the source of our contentment can help us find peace during the hardest of times.

Pray. Psalm 17:6 guides us, "I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer." God is faithful to hear our prayers. Just knowing He is listening is very comforting. Think back to a time when God has answered your prayer and remember His faithfulness.

Relase. 1 Peter 5:7 instructs us, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." Literally casting our anxiety on Christ, we can find true contentment. The key to this is not taking that anxiety back. Leave it with Jesus, who is far better equipped to deal with it than we are.

No matter what our circumstances are, let's learn with the apostle Paul to be content whatever the situation. Let's take a stand and decide today that we will no longer let anxiety or emotion keep us in the pit. Let's rest in the knowledge that with God on our side, the victory is won and there is hope for a better tomorrow.