The Art of Contentment

In a society where we are always striving for bigger, faster, newer and better the meaning of contentment seems a little out of place.  When we do hear someone declaring that they are content, we tend to look down upon them as if it is some act of treason.  But what does contentment really mean, and what place does it have in our lives.  Well, the dictionary definition would be this -” the experience of satisfaction and being at ease in one’s situation.”  Well, after reading that it seems that we can only be content when things are going well for us.  But in actuality, that doesn’t even seem to be the case anymore.  Even when we have the home, we want a bigger one, or the newer car or the faster computer; and the list goes on.  And what about when we find ourselves in circumstances that are less than favorable.  How in the world can we be content then?  When the bills are high and the funds are low, and the daily stress of life is being carried on our shoulders, how can we have ease in our situation?

I have been trying to answer some of those questions in my own life as I am trying to find peace in my current status in life, while still hoping and pushing toward a more favorable future.  I have come to a few personal conclusions about this idea of being content, and the first one is this:  contentment is not synonymous with settling or giving up.  So many times we think that if we find peace in our situation, it means that we no longer are looking for anything better or different.  But this idea is totally false, and can put us in a state of continued restlessness.  I think that when we are content we have made a choice to accept our circumstances and continue to live with joy despite them.  We lose so much precious time when we feel like we can’t live abundantly just because things aren’t the way we want them at the moment.

My second conclusion is that we can find value in our present state even if it’s a negative situation.  There are lessons to be learned especially when we are going through hard times.  Our first instinct is to want to just get through the tough times and forget they ever happened.  But this could be a time that we are being prepared for something much greater that lies ahead, and if we look closer we can see how we are growing and stretching.

My last idea is that contentment is not based on our external circumstances, but is rooted in knowing that ultimate joy comes from a relationship with God.  When we are connected to Him and believe that He is in control, we can rest in His promises and do not have to ride the emotional roller coaster of the ups and downs in our lives.  Where are focus is, so will be our contentment and joy.  So as I finish typing this and look around my present surroundings and think, “it’s got to get better than this” , I will open up my bible and read Philippians 4:12

” 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.

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