What Scripture passage first comes to your mind when you hear the word contentment? Now I know that we’ve memorized Hebrews 13:5 and 1 Timothy 6:6-7 so maybe one of those verses was your first answer! But my first response would have to be Paul’s words to the saints in Philippi . “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (4:11-13) The context of this passage is clearly in the area of finances and daily provision. We may struggle with contentment in these areas but we know that we can learn to be content. Paul did. He learned the secret. I think it’s the same secret that the Psalmist shared when he wrote “Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His presence continually.” (105:4) We need God’s strength all the time, don’t we?
But that is not all that Paul had to say about contentment. Paul had something to say to the Corinthians as well. His words here never really jumped out at me until recently.
Now I’ll be honest with you. I don’t really struggle with contentment in the area of finances and possessions. Oh, once in a great while, I may wish for more than I have but it’s not something I struggle with. I don’t desire what others have. The majority of the time what I have is enough. But to say as Paul did that I am content with weaknesses, insults, persecutions. Well, that’s a different story. I’m reminded of James’ words to count it all joy when we encounter various trials. I get that. Those trials will lead to my maturity but to say that I’m content with insults, persecutions, weaknesses…. Other translations use the words ” I delight in” and ” I take pleasure in” rather than the words “I am content with”. Hmmm… maybe I don’t quite get that counting it all joy after all.
In order to understand why Paul can state with such confidence his contentment in these various circumstances, we must look at the passage these words are taken from. We’ll start with verse 7 but feel free to read from verse 1 this week as you have opportunity. “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
As I read this passage, I can see why Paul said that he is content. With his weakness came God’s sufficient grace and power. In his weakness, he received God’s strength. Remember Paul’s words to the Philippians! Paul experienced all kinds of insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. I’ll never experience all Paul did. Yet like Paul I can be content.
Are you weak? I am. I can’t possibly do all there is in my life during this season. But I try. Over and over again I try. I ask the Lord to remove from my life so that I can do it. That’s pride and independence. I’ll share what He has been patiently speaking to me over and over again. He doesn’t want to change anything but me. He shows me that I walk in my own strength and sufficiency and you know, I have no strength or sufficiency so I fail. He tells me to seek Him and His strength and His presence continually. So today, I’ll do as Paul did and “boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” What about you? Do you need to do the same? May God bless you this week as you meditate and memorize 2 Corinthians 12:10.
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