I’ll Be Happy When…
Read Philippians 4:10-12 (ESV)
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. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 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.
Are you struggling with contentment? What do you think you need in order to be satisfied?
Have you ever thought, “I’ll be happy when…” Maybe it’s graduation. You’ll finally be happy once you have that diploma in your hands. Maybe it’s your job. You’d be a lot happier if you could just find a better one or better yet, just retire! Maybe you are waiting to find a spouse. It feels like your life won’t really begin until you finally meet “the one.” Maybe you wish you had a better car or a bigger house and if you just had that, you’d finally be satisfied.
But I’ve noticed something about myself and maybe you can relate. Once I achieve a dream, I start looking forward to the next one. I’m not content once I get the new car or buy the bigger house. Once I get what I want, I’m not happy for long. The new wears off sooner than you think or something else in life comes along to upset your happiness. What is the answer? How can we ever be content?
In today’s passage, Paul said that he had learned “the secret” to contentment. Yes, even when he was hungry and in need! What was the secret? We find out when we read on to verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Paul's secret to contentment was trusting in God to strengthen and sustain him. He knew that with Jesus as the source of his strength, he could endure and get through anything.
You see, when Paul wrote this, he was on house arrest because he wouldn’t stop proclaiming the Gospel. The Philippian church had been faithful supporters of his ministry but for some reason, their support stopped. Paul wasn’t complaining about that. He acknowledged that they hadn’t had the opportunity to give recently. But once they had the opportunity, they took it and sent a gift with Epaphroditus to give to Paul. And he was grateful.
But he pointed out that even before he received their gift, he was content. Now, I don’t know about you, but that is convicting to me! Most of us are not in as dire straits as Paul. Most of us aren’t in prison or on house arrest. We aren’t wondering whether we’ll be allowed to live or die. Most of us aren’t facing extreme persecution for the sake of the Gospel either. But we still struggle with contentment.
The thing is, Paul had lived in both circumstances. He had lived in abundance and now he lived in need. Once, he had it all. But he counted it all as loss because he knew that knowing Christ far surpassed everything he previously had (Philippians 3:8). He gave it all up for Christ. So, when he found himself experiencing hardship and brought low, he was ok because he knew that what he had in Christ was worth far more than what he’d given up. Plus, he knew that God would strengthen, sustain, and provide for him. He knew the Lord would see him through.
Friends, we’ll never think that we have it all because there will always be the next great thing. There will always be something else to achieve or acquire here on earth. If we want to experience contentment, we have to learn to find our joy, strength, and satisfaction in Him alone. We have to understand that what He has given to us already is more than we deserve and that what He has promised us in the future will make all of our earthly blessings pale in comparison. And with His strength, we can get through anything while we wait.
Lord, I confess that sometimes I struggle with being content. I am always looking for the next big thing. I tend to think I’ll finally be happy when I get what I think I want or achieve my next dream. But I know the secret to contentment is to find my joy and strength in You alone. Remind me that You are all I need. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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