August 21, 2019
The Secret of Being Content
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. (Philippians 4:12, NIV).
Friend to Friend
“It’s too hot!” he complained over the kitchen counter, complete with rolled eyes and his best pre-adolescent attempt to pretend he might pass out from the heat.
Nice acting job, buddy. I restrained rolling my own eyes.
Moments, before I’d told my twelve-year-old to go outside and play with friends. He needed to get some fresh air and sunshine. Otherwise we both might have a meltdown.
Granted, it was close to 90 degrees outside. Warm, no doubt about it. But not scorching or dangerous. And our neighborhood boasted plenty of large trees and front porches providing shade. It was a normal summer day, but already the break from school had lost its luster.
“It’s beautiful outside!” I told him. “Besides, remember a couple weeks ago?”
I went on to remind him of those early June days when the temperature had remained unseasonably cool and the summer shorts stayed in the drawer.
“You didn’t want to play outside then because it was ‘too cold.’” I grinned, hoping he’d see the irony. Instead …
“70 degrees!” he countered. “Every day needs to be 70 degrees. That would be perfect.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. He had a point. Seventy-degree sunny days are just about as perfect as they come. But expecting every day to deliver perfect weather is not only unreasonable but impossible. The planet needs a combination of rain and sun, night and day, to thrive.
Sometimes I’m not all that different from my son. Although I don’t wake up expecting perfect weather, I do expect my life to go according to plan, to follow a predictable routine and meet my every need. In a sense, I want a string of seventy-degree days. I don’t want too many crises, too much discomfort, too many challenges. And if life doesn’t deliver my definition of perfect weather, I can easily grow frustrated and lose my peace and contentment.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul claimed he’d learned the “secret of being content in any and every situation” (4:12). That means on the hot days and cold days alike. His secret?
Finding an outside source to regulate his temperature.
Like a furnace and air conditioning unit regulates the temperature inside the house regardless of the weather, we need an outside source to help us stay centered even when life grows uncomfortable. We need someone who can counteract our crises with his unwavering presence and soothe our anxiety with his unending peace.
Jesus. The one who comforts day after day with his nearness.
To pine away our days waiting for perfection will only leave us complaining in the kitchen about everything that’s wrong. In the process, will miss what’s waiting for us outside, the fresh air and sunshine and adventure of a life in Christ. No, we can’t control the weather. But we know One who can. And He makes the difference from being a woman who melts down in the heat of life and a woman who knows how to shine in spite of it.
Father, thank You for being my thermostat, the One who keeps me anchored and at peace when life feels out of sorts. Help me to learn to lean on You when I’m tempted to complain about my life. And teach me to be a woman who lives content in Your presence, no matter each day’s weather.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Most of us have at least one area of our lives in which contentment seems to elude us. Where are you lacking peace? What is one step you can take toward Jesus in that circumstance which will move you away from complaint and toward contentment? It may be as simple as praying the prayer above and stating out loud, “Jesus, I trust you.”
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A storyteller at heart, Michele Cushatt writes and speaks on the necessity of perseverance, leadership and faith in the hard places. A three-time tongue cancer survivor and mama to children "from hard places," Michele is a (reluctant) expert of pain, trauma and our deep human need for real connection. She lives in Colorado with her husband and their six children, ages 12 to 27. If you’ve ever questioned God’s presence in the middle of your pain, pre-order Michele’s newest book RELENTLESS: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves today, releasing November 12, 2019.
Originally published Wednesday, 21 August 2019.