There are monotonous, busy days in life when we are serving God, but we await another door to open. We have a vision that life could be better and that we could be doing more for God than we are now. Sometimes it is at that point that things worsen.
In the book of Philippians Paul wrote, “...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” At the time he was in jail for spreading God's Word. Not only life could be better, but could he not do more for God somewhere else also? No. God planned Paul's imprisonment so that Paul could learn what God wanted him to know to fulfill what would be Paul's greatest ministry. Remember that in conflict you can question purpose or you can confirm purpose. While in chains, Paul wrote letters to the churches that he no doubt wanted to be with. His letters were effective in the churches are still are in hearts today. You can be content in any circumstance, whether you caused the conflict or something else did. It may not have been a sinful action. Miscarriages, car accidents, divorced parents, hurricanes, cancer, unemployment, persecution of righteousness –these are of few of the conflicts we face in a sin-cursed world. There are many things that we do not understand, but it is not always God's choice for humans to understand. It is in our loss of understanding that we can finally learn trust Him and discover a deeper need of faith and forgiveness in God.
Contentment is not being comfortable, agreeable, or even understood. Contentment in this text is translated as sufficient. You see, conflicts in the Christian's life are not really conflicts. They are vital in God's plan. They are stepping stones to destiny. They are the circumstances in which God protects us, teaches us, and uses us to the greatest of His glory. We should expect trials in life; for, we have a lot to learn in this earth which is sin-bound without Christ.
Many Christians quote the end of Paul's letter, saying, “I can do all things through Christ which strength strengtheneth me.” We do not have the ability or permission to do anything we want. We have access to Christ's power to respond righteously in circumstances that God allows. This is what we need strength for: to learn contentment. Learn God's sufficiency. God does not want to display human strength (although His design of creation is indescribable). He desires that His power be displayed. We need strength only to accept that. Do not walk through life wishing you could do more for God somewhere else. Be still and know that He is God right where you are. Learn contentment and He will reveal to you His next move. When Paul confirms, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” he did not say what the needs were. It may be that you need another lesson in trust, joy, self-control, peace, or surrender. God surely has a purpose for His children, but it will not be through our strength or understanding. We may do our best to love and obey God, but we will fail even in that. Painful things will still happen. God's will in everything is for us to know that He is God. Choose to learn, to seek His face, and to accept His sufficiency –and then abound in it.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:11-13