Struggling with contentment is something I’ve personally experienced in the past. Sometimes, it can feel like everyone is living their best life and then there’s you. You’re trying to figure out how to get your life together and then actually enjoy it.
Contentment can be defined as a state of happiness and satisfaction. But in a world and culture that teaches you to get more and be more all while handling multiple things at one time, no wonder there are so many people who are unhappy.
And if we’re honest, this topic seems over-saturated. It seems like so many people are talking about being content, but when I look around, there are still so many men and women struggling with contentment.
How can we have so many lessons and teachings on contentment, but still no transformation in the life of the believer? I know that this is a loaded question, but in situations like this, I always like to turn to Scripture and see what the Bible has to say. Philippians 4 is a great chapter to read and learn more about this subject, so that’s where we’re turning to today!
The author of the chapter, Paul, actually wrote it while he was in prison to the Philippian Church who was experiencing a lot of opposition and Paul uses his life as an example of how to respond to hardship with joy. There are a lot of nuggets that we can pull from this chapter so it is my prayer in reading this blog post that you will be given practical tools and steps to apply to your life that will help you be more content when you find yourself struggling with contentment.
Contentment is Connected to Your Hope.
The first thing we can learn from Paul is that contentment is connected to your hope. At this point in the letter, Paul is giving the Philippian Church his final thoughts and words of encouragement and he says in verse 1:
- NIV: Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!
- NLT: Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stay true to the Lord. I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy and the crown I receive for my work.
I really love both translations of this verse. One of the words that stood out to me while reading and studying is the word, crown. Paul uses the ancient Greek word for crown that describes a crown that is given to an athlete who has won a race. It is a crown of achievement (stephanos), not a crown that is given to a king (diadema).
And this reminds me of Hebrews 12:1-2, which says, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
So Paul is telling us that we are each in our own race. For athletes, there are aspects of their lives that aren’t necessarily comfortable to deal with (disciplined training, nutrition, sleep, etc.), but these are all a part of the process that help them be great athletes and win races.
In the same way, there are parts of our lives that God will use to develop us (challenging seasons, difficult people, etc.). They aren’t necessarily comfortable, but we must continue to remain steadfast and hold on to our hope. We must maintain the same joy that was set before Jesus who was about to literally die a death that he didn’t deserve.
When we look back at the verse, Paul says stand firm in the NIV, but in the NLT, he says stay true to the Lord. When we face opposition or when we become discouraged, it should not cause us to look at our lives as a disappointment. We must continue to fix our eyes on Jesus, remain steadfast in God, and keep our hope in Him.
When our hope is in money, status, recognition, career, or relationships, it’s easy for us to lose our joy and contentment. For example, when we care about the thoughts of others over what Jesus thinks about us, we’ll constantly be swayed back and forth by the approval of men.
We know how people are! One day, they like us, and the next day, they switch up on us! That’s just humanity. But we serve a God who never changes and remains the same. He is faithful even when we are not faithful. He is loving and kind even when we are not. He provides even when we don’t deserve it.
The definition of steadfast is to resolutely or dutifully be firm and unwavering. Hope, on the other hand, can be defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. So the question that we have to ask ourselves is where is our hope? Is it in our job, our relationship, our career, our family, or how people see us? Is it external or is it something that’s internal regardless of what’s happening around us?
That is true contentment. When our hope is in Christ and who He is as a friend and Savior, it allows us to maintain a state of happiness and satisfaction that the world can’t give and the world can’t take away.
Contentment is Connected to Your Mouth.
In Philippians 4:4, Paul tells us, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” In other words, we have to be careful of things that try to steal our contentment and we can do that by being mindful of what we say. Here are a few examples:
We have to be careful about how much we complain. Complaining in the name of venting can sometimes make you feel worse about the situation. I don’t mean never share your burdens with those around you, but we have to guard our tongue and speak life over our minds, situations, and our lives.
This type of speech is an attack on our identity as daughters and sons of God. This can sound like, “I’m not good enough, no one likes me, or I’ll never be successful.” Talking like this is just a reflection of how we see ourselves, and God wants us to see ourselves the way He sees us, which requires us to replace those lies with His truth!
We all know the phrase that comparison is the thief of joy or in this case contentment. We have to be careful of comparing ourselves to others because if we pay more attention to other people, we will lose sight of what God is doing in and through our lives.
This type of speech is an attack on our trust and hope in Christ. This sounds like, “It’s never going to work out, I’ll never be able to accomplish that, People will think I look silly.” Again, if we want to experience more contentment, we must continue to rejoice in the Lord!
At the end of the day, the enemy will do whatever he possibly can to attack our minds and plant seeds of lies that do not align with the Word of God. That’s why 2 Corinthians 10:5 says to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ and that’s why Paul goes on to tell us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Instead of complaining or succumbing to fear or shame, we must let gratitude protect us! Gratitude is a sign that our security and confidence is in Christ because we know that worship confuses the enemy.
I know it doesn’t make sense whenever you feel down and you don’t feel like confessing the Word, but faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). The more that we allow the Word to wash over us, it will change the way we think, which will ultimately change the way we feel about our lives.
So what does your speech say about you? Does your mouth reflect joy? Does it reflect contentment? Or does it only reflect what’s going on around you? If you’re struggling in this area and would like to change how you think by changing what you say, I encourage you to sign up for The Confessions Project.
Contentment is Connected to Your Decision.
In Philippians 4:11-12, Paul says, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for 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.”
When it comes to being more content, sometimes we have to make a conscious decision and choose to live in a state of contentment. Contentment involves finding delight in God’s wise plan for our lives and humbly allowing Him to direct us in it.
Paul knew how to be content in every situation. This tells us that our contentment is not based on what’s going on around us. It’s an internal decision. Sure, our lives don’t necessarily look the way that we want them to all the time. However, we have to make up in our minds and in our hearts that we will rest in God’s love for us above all else.
The truth is, we’re all on a journey of learning to truly love ourselves through the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, it’s difficult to do that without receiving God’s love for us first. We love (including ourselves) because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). When we learn to rest in God’s love, we can find contentment in where He has us in this particular moment in time even if the outcome doesn’t look the way we want.
That is a decision: believing that God loves us and He has our best interest at heart. His Word promises that He has plans to prosper us, to give us hope, and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). We must continue to trust His timing and process, and we must continue to be gracious and kind to ourselves. There is safety in God’s presence and His plans for our lives. It’s all a matter of perspective.
So what will you decide? Will you decide to remain steadfast in God or will you continue to remain steadfast in yourself?
Contentment Is Connected To The Cross.
Finally, contentment is connected to the cross. No matter where you are in your life right now, God died to save your life and set you free. He doesn’t want you to experience shame or fear. He doesn’t want you to experience sadness or doubt. He doesn’t want you to be discontent.
He wants you to experience the fullness of joy and hope that is found in His presence. I encourage you to read Tips on Sitting in God’s Presence if you’re struggling to really sit with God and lay yourself bare before Him. I encourage you to tell Him what’s bothering you. Tell Him what hurts and why you’re unhappy. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast your cares on Him because he cares for you.”
God’s presence is the best place to find true contentment. It’s also the place to find healing from pain or past disappointments that are preventing us from being content.
So Let’s Recap:
- Contentment is connected to your hope.
- Contentment is connected to your mouth.
- Contentment is connected to your decision.
- Contentment is connected to the cross.
If you’d like a place to start in processing how you feel, I have some reflection questions that you can download at the bottom of this post! I encourage you to take a moment to answer honestly. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you areas that may not be rooted in Him.
But let me know what you think in the comments! Are you a woman struggling with contentment? If so, what are some ways that you have found contentment in your life?
If you enjoyed this blog post, check out How to Set Your Year Up For Success on the blog!
Hanha Parham is a Christian author and speaker. Her personal mission is to provide the millennial woman with fun and practical resources that help them confidently believe who God has called them to be. When she is not encouraging others or writing her heart out, she enjoys watching Grey’s Anatomy, drinking iced chai lattes from Starbucks, and connecting with friends on Instagram. Come say hi!