"Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content."
Have you ever found yourself wishing your "problems" away, wanting things to be different than they really are? Have you fallen into the trap of saying that if your circumstances changed, then you could be truly happy? How often do we go through life, discontent with our situations, not realizing that the Lord has put us in the spot where we are at for a specific reason?
I don't know if you noticed, but all of the above comments had one common thread. They all focused on the self-centered problems of life. Too often we start feeling sorry for ourselves, and when the invitation arrives to attend our very own "pity party", we gladly send in our RSVP, because who wouldn't want to attend one of those?!?
In the above verse, Paul doesn't just say that he is content in whatever state he is in. He says that he has "learned" to be content in whatever state he is in! Our contentment doesn't just happen. It is something to strive for and work towards. It is a daily battle against our self-centered will. But do you know what the good news is? It does get easier the more you practice! You know the old saying, "Practice makes perfect!" Yup. It rings true with learning to be content as well!
Linda Dillows, in her book, Calm My Anxious Heart, shares five steps that she has taken to remain content in every circumstance.
1) Never allow yourself to complain about anything (not even the weather!)
2) Never picture yourself in any other circumstance or someplace else
3) Never compare your life with another's
4) Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise
5) Never dwell on tomorrow! Remember that it is God's and not ours!
So next time you start feeling discontent with your lot in life, remember to take it to the Lord, who is the only one who can truly help you conquer your self-pitying feelings and make you truly and completely content!