It’s hard to be content. This past Lord’s Day I preached on Philippians 4:10-13, in which the apostle Paul says “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (v.11). I didn’t address this detail, but it’s telling that Paul says he “… learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, …” (v.12). He wasn’t naturally content in all circumstances; he had to acquire that ability through learning.
And so do we. By nature we are disposed to be discontent and dissatisfied with our lot in life. We often wish things – or people! – were different, and we covet the things we do not have. For me, I often think I’ll arrive at complete happiness at some point in the future – contentment is always just around the corner. But from the perspective of five, ten, or twenty years ago, I am now my future self. But I still look forward to some golden age when everything will be lined up just right to make me truly happy.
Not that I’m generally discontent, but the present always seems to be missing something that I think the future will provide.
Paul’s secret to learning contentment was Christ – “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (v.13). And whenever I look again to Jesus, seeing my Savior who died for me and who rules over all things for my good, I remember all the reasons I have to rejoice in the present.
But I’m still learning; unlike Paul, I’m not ready to say “I have learned” it. But as for always looking to the future, one wonderful thing about being a Christian is knowing that our future is glorious. Not our future in this world, but that in the world to come.
This Sunday will be my last sermon from Philippians. On deck for preaching is the prophecy of Isaiah. I admit I am a little daunted at the prospect of beginning a series of sermons through this book of the Bible. It’s long, it’s in Hebrew, and it’s full of many oblique prophetic passages. But there are so many passages in Isaiah that are sublime – leaving us awestruck by the ineffable majesty of God and amazed at the promise of salvation through the coming Christ. For that reason I am looking forward to diving into this portion of God’s Word.
On a more mundane topic, this summer I have thought sometimes how blessed Robyn and I are to have all five of our kids at home. Our first-born is back from college, and our second eldest will be a senior in high school this fall. So I don’t know how many more summers, if any, we’ll have a full house.
Finally, at an even more mundane level, I have to confess that though our world is saddled with so much tragedy and hardship right now, I really miss not having baseball to follow this summer. I know, from eternity’s perspective a lost baseball season doesn’t amount to much. But summer just doesn’t feel right without a game to listen to or standings to follow.
I suppose we crave the comfort of the familiar. But to come back to where I started, though the past several months have been tumultuous and unsettling, God is still on his throne; and in Christ, he still gives us every reason to be content in “any and every circumstance.”
Soli Deo Gloria!