10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Contentment. We seem to all want it, but we also know few people who truly have it. It seems almost impossible to be satisfied with who we are, what we have achieved, and how we spend our days. There always seems to be something standing in the way. We never seem to make quite enough money. There is always the next promotion or landing the bigger sale. Our houses seems too small or under-furnished. Our kids are going through “that phase” but then unfortunately they grow into “that phase”.
Yet after that very season, while he was still in his prime, he decided to retire. He claimed that he had lost a desire for the game. In short, he wasn’t content. In an attempt to find it, he decided to become a professional baseball player. For all who know this history, you already know that this was a terrible move. He became a below average double-A player who could barely bat .200. The great athlete was greatly humbled. Not finding what he needed in baseball, he signed again with the Bulls and ended up leading them to an unthinkable second three-peat of the NBA championship. Then, after seemingly coming to the end of his career, Jordan retired once again. Yet, like many great athletes past their prime, Jordan wasn’t content with his retirement, and two years later he signed with the Washington Wizards. Not performing as he did before, he would openly criticize his teammates for their lack of help. Jordan retired for the last time after only two years. If the greatest basketball player of all time, who still makes more than $80 million a year ten years after his retirement, can’t find contentment, how can anyone hope to? Why is it that you and I can’t just be happy with exactly what God has given to us today?
The problem is that we are looking in the wrong places for contentment. Getting rid of financial worries will not bring us contentment. Retiring to a home overlooking the peaceful scenes and sounds of the ocean will not bring us contentment. God taught Paul a secret that we need to know: our circumstances can never, nor will ever, bring us long term contentment. And any short term contentment we find just brings us greater discontentment later when the fix doesn’t last. The secret is to place our trust and hope in our Lord. He is the only one who can bring us inner strength and peace. This is not trust that He will change our circumstances, but trusting that what He has provided is enough. It is trusting that He is in control of our current circumstances, knows what’s best for us better than we know ourselves, and loves us with a love that is beyond our ability to understand. If that God has brought us here, why do we need things to change to be content with where He has us?
May we choose today to trust in the One who supplies all that we need and choose to be forgetful of the things that we wish He would bring. May we find Paul’s secret to contentment.