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 (Philippians 4:12 NIV).
Friend to Friend
Like every other morning, I stood in front of my closet and tried to answer the question, “What should I wear today?” Big-city rent, a new baby, and minimum-wage paychecks meant few options to choose from. Pulling a well-worn shirt from its hanger, I grumbled in my head and heart. I’m tired of these clothes. Everything is shabby and out of style. I wish I could feel pretty for once. Will I ever get anything new?
I didn’t want a whole new wardrobe. Just one fresh item to put a pop of color in my closet. A red sweater! That’s it—just one red sweater—and I’d be content. On impulse, I tossed up a prayer for that one piece of clothing. Then I quickly laughed it off because surely such a big God didn’t care about my little longings.
Two days later I heard a tap at the door. My neighbor stopped by to say hello and share how she was clearing the clutter from her apartment. “Here! I thought you might like this,” she said, putting a bag in my hand. My mouth fell open as I pulled a red sweater from that bag. I realized God had heard my prayer after all.
The funny thing is the sweater was actually a little tight. Made of wool, it also felt too scratchy on my skin. The sweater remained untouched in my closet. It stood as a reminder from God that the issue was not His ability to answer and provide, but my own lack of trust and gratitude for what I had.
We all struggle with contentment, don’t we? We complain when our children are immature, then cry because they’ve grown up so fast. We crave some time to ourselves, then feel lonely and neglected when it’s given to us. Our impatience for crisp, cool autumn weather gives way to grumbling when the leaves need raking. We are easily frustrated and discouraged, and we doubt if God really has our best interest in mind.
The Bible introduces us to someone who knew all about setbacks and struggles. If anybody had a right to complain, it was Paul. Beaten, imprisoned, and shipwrecked, he was threatened by enemies from all sides (2 Corinthians 11:24-26). He shared that despite his status and credentials, “I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked” (v. 27). Paul also carried a heavy weight of ministry to a young church who needed constant teaching, correction, and prayer. How did Paul keep miserable circumstances from stealing his joy and motivation to carry on?
Paul had learned the “secret of being content” that we so desperately need in our own hardships. What was that secret? He discovered that weakness is the door where God’s grace, power, and strength come in. Paul explains, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10.) The difficulties we work to avoid are the very things that let us experience God’s love and power like nothing else.
My threadbare closet was a gift to show I needed something more beautiful than clothes: I needed to “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
Perhaps for you, weakness will allow you to know God’s strength and become a woman of patient endurance. Broken relationships can reveal His redeeming power. A setback or “no” can loosen our grip and keep us humble. Our most painful losses can create a void that God’s love fills to overflowing. If we never suffer from not having enough, how will we know that God is?
Today, is your friend or loved one unable to satisfy your heart? Have you shopped ‘til you drop but you still crave more?
Do you fill your days with busy activity but still feel aimless or bored?
Are you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired?Does your life today fall far short of yesterday’s expectations?
In whatever ways you feel hurt or incomplete, trust that God wants to show Himself in powerful ways. Cry out to Him in prayer, and tell Him what you need. Watch and wait, and He will answer. You’ll discover that He’s better than anything you could ask for or imagine.
Dear Lord, It seems when I search for happiness, it’s always out of reach. I need something more than this world can offer. I need You! Teach me the secret of being content. I want to trust You’re using every struggle to show me more of Your love and power. Transform my heart and mind so You are my everything.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What do you find yourself tempted to complain about most? What might God want to show you as you wait for things to change?
More from the Girlfriends
Perhaps you dreamed of “happily ever after” with your spouse, but you’ve faced challenges you never saw coming. To help you seek God—together—Joanna and her husband Rob created 101 Prayers for Mr. & Mrs. This beautiful, foil-embossed book holds scriptures and heartfelt prayers for couples to commit their struggles, dreams, and relationship to the Lord.
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