The Secret to Peace and Contentment
There are some things in your life that you can change. You have the power to change them. But, there are also things in life that are beyond your control. Things that are beyond your power to change. What do you do with that? Let’s talk about some of the alternatives.
We can worry about it. Does that work? No. We can resent it and get bitter about it. Does that work? No. We can feel guilty about it or ashamed of it or regret it. That doesn’t work. We can have self-pity about it. That doesn’t work. We can be fearful and worry about it. That doesn’t work.
There is only one thing that works in the situations that you can’t change. Acceptance. Learning to be content. Paul understood this. Notice what he says
Phil. 4:11-13 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
When Paul wrote this he was not down at Ritz Carlton. He was in prison, in Rome. When he’s writing, “I have learned to be content in all situations,” he is chained to a Roman soldier in a damp, dank, dark prison.
Notice the word “learned.” Contentment is a learned experience. By nature you are not a contented person. It’s something I have to learn. It’s a mark of maturity. It’s emotional maturity to learn contentment. Immature people are never content with anything. They’re always discontent. You have to learn it. It is a choice.
The other thing I want to point out is it is only possible through Christ’s strength. Christ gives me the strength to be contented. One of the problems that we have with contentment is because we’re always looking for explanations in our lives of why things happen. God doesn’t tell us why most of the things happen in our life and that just ticks us off. “Why not, God? Why not tell me why? Why doesn’t God tell me why everything happens in my life?” Because he’s testing you. He’s testing you to see will you let go of control and will you learn to be content whether he explains it or not?
God doesn’t owe you an explanation for anything. In fact, most things we’re not going to know why they happen until we get on the other side of death and we get into heaven and then we’ll see it.
Remember when we were little kids and the only time your classroom in school was quiet was during a test. Because the teacher would say, “Children! No talking! Take your pencils, fill out your tests.” Even the teacher would be quiet. She’d be totally silent. The teacher is silent when a test is being given.
Here’s the point. When God is silent in your life, you’re often going through a test. When you don’t hear God and God feels like a million miles away right now and “I can’t get any answers and I’m not hearing anything.” This is a test! The teacher is always silent when you’re going through a test. Your faith is being tested. Will I let go of control? Or will I grab on more tightly? Will I learn to be content? What you need when you’re going through whatever it is you are going to go through this next week or this next month or this next year, you don’t really need God’s explanation. You need God’s presence. You need God’s presence in your life. You need God’s love in your life.
Ps. 37:7a Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.
That’s what we need to do. That’s learning to be content. Many people I’ve met and counseled with don’t want to admit it but they are really angry with God. How about you?
Maybe you’re angry with God about the way he made you. You’re angry with God about your appearance. Why did you make me look like this? “God, I could have done a better job than this!” Why did you give me the parents you gave me? Maybe you’re angry with God because you’re disappointed in your marriage. Maybe you’re angry with God because you’re single, or you have an unfulfilled dream.
We just need to realize. All we’re doing is hurting ourselves. Our discontent is robbing us of inner peace. If we want serenity in the storm and we’re getting ready to go through a major storm, then we’ve got to surrender. We’ve got to learn to be content.