3 Keys to Finding Contentment

Peaceful-WomanIt seems to me that finding contentment is one of the greatest challenges of the human race. I know it often is a huge challenge for me, and I see the effects of discontentment all around me every day. Some days I feel more content than others; what about you? On those days when everything seems to be going well; I’m not struggling with some major crisis; I have what I need, and even many things that I want – those are the times I feel the most content. But is that true contentment? I’m not sure if I can honestly say that it is.

According to the dictionary, the word means, the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind.” One synonym that comes to mind is peace. To be at peace is to be content, and to be content is to be at peace. A familiar passage of Scripture that speaks of this is Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”  Paul had learned that being content had nothing to do with his external circumstances. 

For me, finding contentment when circumstances are not in my favor does not come naturally. I would guess that most of us are the same way. After all, we are human and we still have a body of flesh to contend with. Flesh wants what it wants, when it wants it, much like a small child. It is self, therefore it is selfish and greedy. Our flesh is never satisfied, never content, never at peace. And it never will be. Paul had learned this after facing many trials and troubles along his journey. In the verses above the ones quoted here, we see how he arrived at this place of contentment no matter what. Beginning in verse 4, he outlines it for us.

First, we must rejoice in the Lord – always. This means to be glad, to take delight, and make joyful. We do this as we focus upon Him and His goodness and nature, which leads us to worship, thank, and praise Him for who He is.

Second, we must display gentleness, or patience, and be fair and mild tempered with everyone. This is not something you can fake, at least not for long. This is the nature of Christ who was meek and humble. His nature must be displayed in and through us. We are to be peacemakers, just as He was.

Third, instead of worrying and being anxious, we are to pray, give our cares to God and thank Him for answering and taking care of us and our needs.

The result of these three activities will be that God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds. We will have peace that doesn’t make sense to the world, or even to us at times. Paul then goes on to say that we must think about, or meditate upon, those things that are good. Focus on the positive, not the negative. Train your mind to look for the good in everything and everyone. I have been learning this for the past year or so, and it has made a huge difference in my attitude! You can do it too, just try it and see!

This was Paul’s secret to finding contentment no matter what. He also acknowledged that it was God’s grace that enabled him to do this. Elsewhere, he spoke of crucifying his flesh daily. This is something we all have to do if we want to be at peace. Our flesh and spirit are constantly at war, but the spirit, in union with God’s Spirit, must rule and subdue the flesh. Everyone wants to be content and at peace in the depths of their being. God created us that way, and His all-sufficient grace that enabled Paul to do this, can, and will, enable us as well!

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The Value of Stillness

I love stillness. Maybe it’s because of my age, or my personality type (mostly introvertedstill waters melancholy). I haven’t always loved it, though. When I was younger I hated being alone or having nothing to do. I was more comfortable with continual noise than silence. Looking back on where I was and where I am now, I can see God has taught me the importance and great value of having regular times of being still and quiet.

Stillness is not necessarily external. I’ve discovered that one can be inwardly still when surrounded by people, loud noise, and even chaos. It has taken many years to learn this. The greatest determining factor, I believe, is learning to quiet the soul. This first requires some inner healing and deliverance from damaged emotions and tormenting thoughts. Once that has been taken care of it is easier to tune into your spirit, which is in union with the Holy Spirit. Because He typically speaks in a still, small voice, it is very difficult to discern what He is saying when we are unable to quiet our soul.

When we struggle to quiet our souls, it is easy for confusion to enter in, causing us to think God is saying something that is really coming from our own desires. I have done this many, many times, and seen others do it as well. This usually leads to inner turmoil, discouragement, and disappointment with God when things don’t turn out as we had hoped.

In contrast, a quiet soul is a trusting soul. When we learn to still the inner turmoil, we can rest in God’s faithfulness and provision. David spoke of this in Psalm 131:2, “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” A weaned child no longer cries for its mother’s milk. He has learned that his needs will be met. 

When we are able to be inwardly still and take regular time to do so, we hear God more easily and learn to trust Him as we enter into deeper intimacy. The deeper we go in Him, the greater our desire for more of Him becomes, and the more quickly we are transformed into His likeness. The stiller the water, the clearer the reflection. We can actually accelerate our spiritual growth and maturity by taking time to learn and practice stillness.

If you struggle with stillness, what is hindering you?

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My child, I love to teach you as we walk together, side by side, day after day; and I will continue to for all of eternity. I AM training you to use the eyes of your heart more than your natural eyes. Follow the leading of My Spirit, and you will gain deeper clarity into the hidden truths of My Word. Think of it as a treasure hunt we play – there are hidden treasures to seek out and search for and as you uncover each one, you are filled with joy and delight!  I love to watch you ponder and wonder and meditate upon what I  show you – keep asking, My child, for it will be given to you;  keep seeking and you will find; keep knocking, for I will open doors of revelation to you that you cannot imagine right now.

It is My glory to conceal a matter and the glory of My sons and daughters to search it out. When you come with the curiosity of a small child, you will find all you are looking for and more on top of that! These are days of grace, and I have much grace for you in this process of learning and discovering the depths of who I AM and long to be for you – have fun with it, My love, for I take pleasure in teaching you and seeing you blossom and grow! You are Mine!