I had a moment today when I had to decide if I was content with the 2 coffees I had already had that day or whether I “needed” a third. Unsurprisingly, (given moment was had outside coffee shop) I decided for being discontent and proceeded to order the coffee. Was my decision then validated by the fact that the lady then gave me the coffee for free, I am sure….but as I sipped on my coffee I began to contemplate the word “contentment”. (Yes that is what continual injections of caffeine in a day does to a person!)
There is much in life that can stir up discontentment. And as easily as a breeze scatters a pile of leaves, peace is disturbed, chaos created, equilibrium lost. A passing comment by a friend, news of an aspect of someone else’s life can sometimes unintentionally unsettle us. It can prod a restlessness inside us that can turn into discontentment if we aren’t careful.
To be content is to be satisfied, have peace of mind and to be accepting of one’s situation. To be discontented is to be dissatisfied with one’s circumstances. The concept of contentment in life has been around forever and we can find it in the Bible with Paul writing “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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.” (Philippians 4:11)
Paul gives us the key here to contentment and that is one of “learned”. Contentment is not something that necessarily comes easily – it is a discipline, a way of life that we must learn, that we must cultivate. It is something that we can have regardless of the condition of our lives. As with Paul, he found contentment, whether living in plenty or in want….Contentment is an attitude that shouldn’t be thrown by circumstances. I read once that “contentment is an inner sufficiency that keeps us at peace in spite of outward circumstances.” The other key that Paul gives us, is anchoring our lives in God.
A contented life is a happy life.
“I have kept my feet on the ground; I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its’ mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.” (Psalm 131:2, MSG Bible)