From: Bishop Steve Breedlove
In Philippians 4.12, St. Paul says, “I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in.” In this season, that is certainly a counter-cultural comment! Considering the season of most of our hearts, most of the time, that is a counter-reality comment. We are a restless people, driven, anxious, guilty, dissatisfied. Even if our desires are deeply Godward, contentment is a rare, exotic bird.
Contentment. The word is winsome, beautiful, compelling. What a word for this season! In the specific context of St. Paul’s statement, there are four ingredients to a contented life.
Prayerfulness is critical (4.4-7), the practice of being “online to God.” Turning every worry, fear, ambition, stress, pang of guilt into prayer. Knowing that God is interested, actively listening, is underscored throughout Scripture. Active prayerfulness is the bedrock of a contented life.
Disciplining our thought life comes next (4.8-10). Sally began pursuing these admonitions years ago. She acknowledges that it is still tough work, but possible, and supremely rewarding. This morning, as I was anxiously listing my plethora of tasks, I paused for a moment, open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Immediately Luke 10 visually came to mind, with the words of Jesus: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things. But Mary has chosen the best part, that will not be taken from her.” Give it a try. Pause. Close your eyes and listen, or look out of the window of the plane. See and reflect on “whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise.”
Gratitude and thanksgiving also nurture contentment. Literally saying thanks to people is ground for contentment (4.10-18). God has provided richly. His mercy is new every morning. His steadfast love never ceases.
Finally, the confidence that God will meet every need according to his riches of glory in Christ Jesus (4.19) opens the door to reflecting the entire message of the Gospel. We stand smack dab in the middle of God’s grand story of redemption. “He is at work in all things” unto our final redemption and full transformation in Christ.
I heard recently that we are as happy (read, “content”) as we choose to be. Philippians 4 gives us reason to believe that contentment is a genuine offer from God in every season of life.
I am the bishop of our Diocese of Christ our Hope. I am married to Sally, and we have five married children and 11 grandchildren (so far). We live in Chapel Hill, NC, but we both love visiting Boston as often as we can get there.