“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”

(Philippians 4:11)

Their band formed in London in 1962.  Reid and I both listened to them when we were in high school.  Recently our son traveled to Chicago to see them perform live, and he is going to be 50 this year.  Fifty-seven years is a long time for a band to hold together.  I’m talking about the Rolling Stones.  The band members are now even older than I am, though not by much.  And although they have recorded many popular songs over the years, there is one song they are most famous for – I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.

Now there is a topic for us to consider.  Satisfaction.  Some define it as “fulfillment, gratification, restfulness, well-being, and tranquility.”  I’m going to address it in this blog as contentment, because that is what scripture calls it.  Sadly, we live in a world that experiences very little contentment.  People act as if they are very dissatisfied with life.  They become boisterous when they don’t get what they want.  They protest when things don’t go their way.  They fight in the aisles of stores.  They point guns at one another when they are irritated.  They disrupt public meetings with their loud complaints.  People have gotten the misconception that their anger is going to get them what they want.  And what they want is what they think they deserve, whether it’s a material thing or a demand for rights.

The apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11 that he had “learned to be content with whatever the circumstances.”   Now how does one get to the point of experiencing real contentment like Paul?  I believe the first answer to that question is by accepting everything that happens to us as part of God’s plan for our life.  But Paul also said something we need to pay close attention to about how he came to be content.  He said he “learned” it.  The word for learned that he chose to use is a Greek word that means, “to understand.”  That tells us that he thought and meditated upon the things he experienced in life.  And even more importantly, he listened to God’s indwelling Spirit who revealed truth in every circumstance he experienced.  Paul then continued in verse 12 and said that he “learned how to live on almost nothing or with everything.”  As well, he wrote that he “learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” 

Paul learned a very valuable lesson about contentment because he took the time and effort to understand God’s perspective in every situation he found himself.  The result was that he gleaned valuable insight from each of them.  I can’t help but wonder if the reason people are so angry and lack contentment is because they really don’t want to be content.  Truly, the Bible tells us that if we are open to God’s teachings we CAN get satisfaction!