"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 everything through him who gives me strength."
Most people can be thankful for their freedom but who can be thankful while in prison?
The Apostle Paul was in prison chained to prison guards while he wrote these words about contentment. How do you do that? Not sure I could.
Are contentment and thankfulness the same thing? Can you be thankful and not be content? Can you be content and not be thankful?
What do we need to learn from this spiritual giant?
"I can do....."
The first thing is to decide to have a willing attitude. A willing attitude is a decision to do God's will. Paul discovered that contentment develops from accepting God's will and not from trying to convince God to do it his way. "I can" really means "I will".
That willing attitude is only as good as your willingness to live it out. It is one thing to say you are willing to accept God's will but it is quite another to stay committed to it when the shackles are applied and the cell door slams. I think sometimes "all things" really means "all my things". When Paul said "all things" he meant "anything God wills for me". Sometimes it meant abundance and sometimes it meant abuse, but Paul was committed to God's will in God's way.
"...through Him Who gives me strength."
Here's the key, when we have the will to do it His way then He gives us the strength to do it. I don't know about you but sometimes I have expected God to MAKE me willing and Give me strength BEFORE I commit to do His will. Paul shows us that it doesn't work that way. If I front load it with willingness and if I surrender to the circumstance, He will backload it with His strength!
Paul's contentment was a result of his relationship to his Christ not to his circumstances. THAT'S IT! That is the secret.
Most of us will never be shackled and thrown into a cell, but we have our prisons. Some of those prisons are prisons of discontent. For others, their discontent is the result of their prison. Either way, there is much to be learn from Paul's testimony of contentment.
You are only a couple of commitments away from contentment. The prison door is open.