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Finding contentment

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation." (Phil. 4:12) What is that secret? I think it has to do with expectations and thankfulness. All our lives we've learned to look forward to things. We've learned to have expectations and we've …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation." (Phil. 4:12)

What is that secret?

I think it has to do with expectations and thankfulness. All our lives we've learned to look forward to things. We've learned to have expectations and we've learned to compare those expectations to reality. If they don't match up, we're unhappy, discontented.

Of course the problem is that reality almost never matches expectations. Expectations tend to inflate over time. Look at the cars or homes we own. They tend to get nicer. But where do you draw the line? Bankruptcy? How many of these ever-inflating expectations are really just an expression of our ego running the show? 

I feel sorry for the kids growing up in the homes of wealthy parents who never really allow them to learn the true cost of things. My parents were well off, but we kids had to go out and get jobs if we wanted to buy stuff. We learned to save up our money.

In the process, we realized that life didn't owe us anything. We didn't get caught up in a cycle of elevated expectations that inevitably invited comparison and disappointment. We learned to be content no matter what we had.

What will young people do when our debt bubble finally explodes and their expectations of a good job vaporize with it? Will they be content? 50% of young people in Spain don't have jobs. The young people of Greece are leaving the country to find work. A generation is grappling with discontent as an every day reality.

What will our American young people do when the landscape has changed and their basis for contentment has changed? How will they adapt?

The Bible says that there is a secret to be learned. I sometimes wonder if I'm forgetting the secret of contentment. I want to constantly remind myself that I don't deserve anything, that everything I've received is a blessing. I want to practice thankfulness and to pass on that habit to those who look to me for counsel.

As you look at your life, are you content? Are the people you hang around content? Can you practice the secret of being thankful in all things?

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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