The greatest mystery in our current society is finding genuine contentment in our present situations.
Now what do I mean by that.
During high school, we are dying to graduate and/or go to college/ university
During college/university we are dying to graduate and find a job
After we find a job, we are dying to find a spouse and start a family
Once we start a family, we are dying to buy a house
After buying a house, we are dying to pay off our mortgage
This list will continue to grow until we are actually dead and buried 72 inches deep.
What does the Bible have to say about this?
12 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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength
If you read this verse in the King James Version, we see that the “him” is meant as “Christ”
Now, many of us are probably familiar with verse 13 (I can do all things through him who gives me strength). We often quote this verse prior to a situation which we hope ends successful (I.e before writing a test, before playing a sports game, before a big church conference, etc).
Paul makes known in the previous verse that he had learned to be content in any and every situation whether good or bad. Therefore, his statement in verse 13 is rather a confident declaration proclaiming that through Christ, he can literally endure all things whether good or bad, hungry or fed, failing or succeeding, etc.
His contentment and strength was found in Christ, not the status or success of his situation.
Now how can we relate this to our current society?
Identity in Christ
The problem with many of us is that our identity is found in our careers, our family, our strengths, weaknesses etc.
We continuously drink from fountains of water with broken cisterns which leave us thirsty for more and unsatisfied. Not to say that our jobs, spouses, etc are bad things, but they should never define who we truly are and what we stand for.
Fortunately, through Christ we have been granted access to the living water (The Holy Spirit) which will never leave us thirsty for anything else (John 4:13-15; John 7:38-39). This living water eventually wells up to eternal life, that is, a deepened understanding of who God is through our relationship with Him (John 4:14; John 17:3).
Our joy is not found in who we are or what we do, it is rather found in who God is and our relationship with Him. However, the bible makes known that without holiness, no man will see God (Hebrews 12:14).
Thankfully, those who place their faith in Jesus Christ will be sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:14), through whom will be able to pursue holiness and deepen their relationship with God (Galatians 5:16-26). This Spirit transforms us and empowers us to pursue holiness and live a life glorifying to God (Romans 8:1-17).
Our deepest desires which we thirst for, may now be satisfied through this amazing gift!
Once we come to this full understanding, we will genuinely grow content in the presence of God regardless of the situation we are in (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Focus on Pleasing Him
Now contentment does not mean complacency.
We cannot expect to grow in any aspect of our lives if we remain stagnant and do nothing. We can’t simply open our arms wide and praise God for the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit whiles being complacent in the things God expects us to do.
Read the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30
Christ himself told His disciples that his nourishment came from doing the will of God and finishing His work (John 4:34). The common will of God for all believers is to be sanctified (to be made holy 1 Thess 4:3).
Having said that, we should never grow to be anxious about tomorrow, because each day has enough things to worry about (Matthew 6:33-34). Regardless of where you are or what you’re doing, always seek to please God and pursue holiness to the best of your abilities in your current situation.
If that means supplying needs to your local church (Romans 12:13), genuinely being respectful to your boss at your work (Colossians 3:23), actually counting it all joy when you face trials and tribulations (James 1:2-3) or any other way you may biblically offer worship onto God through your obedience onto Him.
There are more than enough things that may be done today in your pursuit of holiness, which will in turn work out for your joy.
Now you may be asking yourself,
If I have to DO things to be nourished or satisfied, why become a Christian?
In other words, why not remain worldly and seek satisfaction from all the other things this world has to offer.
Why do I need God in the equation for the sake of my happiness/ contentment?
The difference here is that, our identity is not found in our works, it is found in Christ (as mentioned in the first heading).
Christ himself reminded his disciples to not rejoice in their works, but to rejoice in the fact that their names have been written in heaven (Luke 10:17-20)
We do not pursue holiness and righteous living to build and define an identity for ourselves. It is rather because of His mercies, that we selflessly and whole heartedly serve Him by offering our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
As a matter of fact, one of the assurances of us knowing God is that we keep his commandments (1 John 2:4-5).
We love Him, because He first loved us, and in understanding this, we grow in our obedience towards Him. And in loving him, we grow more content in who He is, by his grace.
Everyday is different. Filled with unique challenges and successes
Rather than seeing things as obstacles, view them as an opportunity to deepen your relationship with God, through the pursuit of holiness by living according to the Spirit, which is the living water.
I promise, you will never be thirsty again.
Soli Deo Gloria