What does it mean to be content? Is that a desirable characteristic? If everyone were content with the way things are, there would never be new inventions, new experiences, new relationships, or any new things on the horizon. People who don’t have goals become stagnant, passive, even stuck.
I always want to do more, see more, learn more. So how does contentment fit with all of that? I am a teacher, a traveler, a learner; and I want to inspire others to do and be those things. Do I ever come to the point where I say, “OK, I’ve learned enough”? “There are enough songs in the world. I don’t need to write another one. I’ve seen a lot in my travels, so I will just stay home now.”
When the apostle Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances,” I think he meant to accept things as they are if we have no choice. (He wrote Philippians 4:11 when he was a prisoner.) He had learned, which was a process that took time, to accept plenty or want, fullness or hunger. So does that mean that we never pray for things to change? Obviously prayer is more than asking for things, but we are told to let our requests be known (Philippians 4:6) to our heavenly Father, who loves giving His children good things. So we keep asking. But are we content if, in His wisdom, He doesn’t comply with our wishes? That’s a tough one.
There comes a time in life when we are limited by health, physical handicaps, lack of funds etc. Can I be content with the wrinkles on my face? Eating soup instead of prime rib? Living in Kansas rather than the mountains of Colorado? Yes. I am learning to accept what God graciously supplies and thank Him in all things (Ephesians 5:20).
But I will not become stagnant or complacent. I will dare to ask for healing for my loved ones, and wisdom for my children and grandchildren. I will drink in opportunities to hear beautiful music at concerts and learning new things. But most importantly, I will keep asking for more wisdom, a deeper love for God, a greater understanding of His Word, His will, and His way. And in the process I will learn the truth of the challenge that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6) Where are you in the process?