Learning to be Content
Written by: Elisabeth Lough
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Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I 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.
- Philippians 4:11-12
When you are stuck in a situation that you’re discontent with, it’s easy to look around at those who have what you want and wish for their lives and even envy them. But at that moment, God’s best for you doesn’t include that thing that you long for.
I know it’s hard to not compare yourself with someone who has something you really want. I’ve done that myself. But it is a painful game that makes you even more unhappy and discontent with your situation.
Instead of looking around at others and what they have that you don’t, look up to God. Some verses that really helped me when I’ve been discontent was Philippians 4:11-12. Even Paul had to learn contentment. It doesn’t come naturally to any of us, not even the Apostle Paul.
Friends, I know it’s hard to wait for that desire of your heart. Whether you long for marriage, a child, a job, a car, a home, or something else, I know it hurts when you see someone else have that when you don’t, and you don’t know when you will get it. But please trust that God knows what’s best for you. I know that sounds cliché, but He truly knows the whole picture of your life, while you see only a glimpse.
When I was a child, I longed for a sister, and since I was an only child, I wanted that relationship. Once, when I was in my early teens, my parents and I did consider adoption and took steps to prepare our home for an addition to our family. But God said no.
The plans fell through, and we did not pursue adoption further, or ever again. One thing that comforted me and gave me hope was a quotation by Elisabeth Elliot: “God never withholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful — ‘severe mercies’ at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our hearts’ desire except to give us something better.”
At that time, I didn’t know what could be better than a sister. But I do know now that I had a special relationship with both of my parents that may not have been possible if I had had a sister. There may be other reasons why God did not allow me to have a sister, but I can trust that He knew what He was doing when He closed that door.
God has a beautiful story for each one of us, but none of them are the exact same. The next time you see someone who has what you want, and it hurts, remember that God “know[s] the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11, KJV). He thinks about us and our lives, and He knows better than we do what is best for us. We can trust Him with our future and our desires.
1. Is there something in my current situation that I am discontent with? If so, how I can give my discontentment to the Lord and learn how to be content?
2. What steps can I take to look to the Lord and not focus on what others have?
Dear Jesus, thank You for creating me and giving me a beautiful, special story. You designed my life especially for me because You know me and You know what’s best for me. Even though I don’t understand why You say no or wait to certain desires I have, help me to trust that You have a reason for delaying or denying those desires. I love You, Lord, and in Your Name I pray, amen.
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