Learning to Be Content

I hate the phrase “Let Go, and Let God.”  For lots of reasons. 

#1 It’s cliché

#2 It’s NOT in the bible

#3 It’s not helpful

#4 What does it even mean?!?!

We’ve all heard this in different ways too . . .

Whether you’re the single person who is told, “Just stop looking for Mr. Right, and then he’ll come along”

 Or parent with a wayward child who is told, “Just stop worrying, she’ll find her way back”

 Or the woman trying to get pregnant “Just stop trying, then it’ll happen.”

When there are hard things in my life, the last thing I want to hear is some cliché that means, “stop thinking about it, stop talking about it, stop worrying about it.”  I understand that some of this can be meaningful, especially to the person who is trying to control at every angle, or is truly worrying instead of trusting God. 

But, the reality is sometimes we offer these Christian clichés because we don’t know what to say, we don’t know how to enter into the hard, we don’t how to walk with others in the mess.

Paul, an example to all of us who are suffering, and walking with the LORD, gives us a glimpse as to how we are to trust God in the midst of hard things:

10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

Learned to be content.

If something is learned, than it doesn’t come naturally.  My Greek concordance defines this word learned: To learn by use and practice, to acquire the habit of

In other words, contentment is not found in superstition (if I let go, God will give.  If I stop looking, then God will help me see, etc.)

Contentment is found in learning, in practicing, in getting into the habit of being okay with your circumstances.

If you are learning contentment, it’s getting in the habit of walking in what God has for you today (good or bad), knowing it is a divine circumstance the LORD has put in your life so that we would know Him more. 

Learning to be content is letting go of your expectations, and accepting your reality. 

Learning to be content is seeking God, not things, to fulfill you.

Learning to be content is resting in whatever circumstances He has for you, not fighting Him to get out.

Learning to be content is getting in the habit of wanting what God wants for you, not trying to make Him change your circumstances.

Learning to be content is letting God be our greatest desire, not getting God to act like a genie in a bottle and asking him to grant us our desires.

 And don’t miss this either . . . Paul learned to be content, but he didn’t go it alone.  Notice . . .

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me (v.10)

Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. (v.14)

Learning to be content is also letting people in.  It’s allowing others to walk with you, suffer with you, and share in your troubles.

I will forever read this passage differently, thanks to that one little word “learned”.

I won’t beat myself up when I struggle with discontentment; I will remember it is learned.  It is not natural.  It is a discipline.  It is a habit.  That, hopefully, the more I exercise, the more it will become more natural to me. 

I will also notice that just as for Paul, “it was kind of you to share in my trouble”.  Part of contentment is finding others to walk with you through the hard.  Not because they have answers or clichés or ways out, but because they “share in my trouble”. 

What do you do in the midst of trials?  Are you looking for a way out (like me) or are you learning to be content?

How do you strengthen the habit of finding contentment in your circumstances?

Do you have others that can share in your trouble?

 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  (Matthew 6:33)

 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  (Galatians 6:2)

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4 thoughts on “Learning to Be Content

  1. Trina Gray says:

    I’m finding as I grew in Christ, that learning to be content is centered around acceptance. And that is a word we use all the time in Celebrate Recovery. Thank you for the reminder to be content today… to live in acceptance… of situations I cannot control, of God’s will, of the state I am in today. God bless.

  2. I'mAllBooked says:

    Good stuff. I have been an habitual complainer, and over the past few years the Lord has shown me that the remedy for complaint is giving thanks. So when I find myself starting to complain or be discontent about a situation, I try to stop myself and find something to thank God for in that situation. May I recommend a wonderful book on this subject: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. I reviewed it on my blog, ImAllBooked.com.

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