Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Secret of Contentment

I have recently undertaken a happiness challenge.  

The challenge is to find at least one thing to be happy about for 100 consecutive days, then share a picture of that happiness via social media.  At the beginning of the challenge it was reported that only 29% of the people who began the challenge actually completed it.  71% of the people could not find something, anything, to be happy about for 100 days in a row!  

I imagine that the documenting of said happiness and posting it to social media had something to do with the success rate.  Surely people are happy at some point everyday right?  It was probably just taking the picture and getting it posted that was the hang up.  Or at least I would like to think so.  

But then I thought about Paul's words in Philippians 4:12-13.  

"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." (emphasis mine)

Contentment, let alone happiness, is not something that came naturally to Paul.  It was something he had to learn.  He learned this secret of contentment, not through a life lived according to the law or the world's standards, but only after he began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Only after he had found the deep and abiding joy of a relationship with Jesus was he able to find contentment in any and all situations.  

Lack of contentment seems to be pervasive in the culture around us.  Everywhere I look people are discontent.  They don't have what the want or want what they have.  They are too busy and too stressed to enjoy the process of living the life God has given them.  They waste their days chasing one dream or another never finding true joy, happiness or even contentment.

The thing is you won't find contentment on your own.  The world will tell you that you can never have enough, that you should always want more (more money, more friends, more success).  That kind of attitude breeds discontent. It is hard to be happy when you are continually discontent.

There is a soul deep joy and a peace that comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  A joy and a peace that surpasses the world's expectations for a "good life"; a joy and a peace that surpasses the immediate circumstances of your life; a joy and a peace that lets you know God is in charge and allows you to be content in any and every situation.

That doesn't mean you will always be happy, that doesn't mean you will never be sad.  But it does mean that underneath that sadness is a joy and even a contentment that no earthly thing can touch.  And when you are content with the circumstances in your life, when you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and have an underlying joy and peace that runs soul deep, then you can find happiness in each day.  The only thing left to do is take a picture of it!