“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-8.
Paul is certainly on the Mt Rushmore of the greatest Christians. But we can’t forget Paul was a regular human being, with access to the same not-so-super-secret Christian tools (the Holy Spirit, prayer, the Bible) as you and me. Through the soaring highs and devastating lows of his life, God taught Paul to keep his eyes on the prize: the salvation of Jesus Christ. Nothing else mattered.
Contentment is confidence in God’s providence and learning to be satisfied with relatively little, and equally important, it’s a sense of independence from circumstances. Contentment and a spirit of thanksgiving have less to do with getting what we want, and more to do with wanting what we already have. The promise is not that God will make you wealthy, but that He will give you strength.
So where does that leave us? Frustrated? Often disappointed? Worried? Lacking joy? But, if you can look past all that you can have, you can be content. The forgiveness God provides for our failures and transgressions gives us a deep and lasting peace, contentment, and happiness. Resting in the security of Jesus allows us to turn our focus away from how much we can accumulate for ourselves and toward how much we can serve Him and further His kingdom.
Paul tells us as much in Philippians 4:11-13: “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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
Thanksgiving is a season of being content. Thanksgiving reminds us of all the things to be grateful for. One reason that we fail to thank God now for what we have is that we want more – we want the next step. We fool ourselves into thinking that when we get more or when we get to the next step then we will stop to thank Him. But that suggests we should not be grateful for what God is doing in our lives as part of His plan for each of us. And that means being thankful even when we are facing setbacks.
We should be thankful because God is worthy of our thanksgiving. It is only right to credit Him because “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father…” (James 1:17). Expressing thankfulness helps us remember that God is in control. Thankfulness, then, is not only appropriate; it is actually healthy and beneficial to us. It reminds us of the bigger picture, that we belong to God, and that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
All of us have a lot to be thankful for this time of year. But not only should we give thanks during the holidays, but we should also give thanks to God every day of the year.
This Thanksgiving, leave your worries about tomorrow with the Lord and you will accept every situation as God’s wise classroom for your growth and development. And when this happens, you will find that in good times or bad, pleasant or painful . .. . you will be content.
1. What is the difference between joy and contentment?
2. What is the secret of being content in every circumstance?