I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Philippians 4:12-13
I was content…almost. Contentment is one of the most allusive things. One minutes you are fat and happy and the next minute you are just fat. Some small, insignificant thing happens that seems to change everything. It probably has a lot to do with most of us living in the best country in the world—the United States. We have more than we need and that is a problem and it is the problem. Andy Stanley, a pastor in Atlanta, talks about the fact that most of us have houses with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms and get ready, there is even a house for our car attached to the deal. Amazing.
Many years ago we went on a mission trip to the Philippines. We were there to repair some damage caused by a major earthquake. Two things amazed me—how beautiful it was in addition to how kind and polite the people were. On a couple of levels it did indeed seem like paradise. You see the island itself was a vacation destination for many. It was simply beautiful. The only problem was, we didn’t get to see it. There simply wasn’t time for a lot of sightseeing because there was a mission to accomplish–a job to finish.
Now I know that probably sounds pretty noble–maybe even spiritual, but the truth is, even on the mission field it is hard not to think about–ME. The “resort” we stayed at really was quite nice–particularly when compared to sleeping in the sand in Mali, West Africa or on the ground in Uganda, East Africa. I guess I should have been content–and I was–almost.
When we arrived at the resort, we were given our room assignments. Judy and I were assigned a single unit. I have to admit, I did have the best roommate. We went to our room and it was nice–small–but nice. It even had a bathroom! There wasn’t a lot of room to walk and have the luggage on the floor, but it was nice. We pushed the twin beds together and it was just like home–just smaller–a lot smaller. Then we decided to go and check out the other room assignments.
Well, their rooms were also quite nice. Each person had two twin beds pushed together to make a double bed and their rooms was bigger–a lot bigger. There was even room for their suitcases to be on the floor and still walk around the bed. Suddenly, my room (well, our room) felt even smaller. Suddenly, it didn’t seem quite–fair.
Now I was content, until I saw how the rest fared. I was content, until I saw what big was like and then I was not. Just like that I went from contentment to discontentment. I went from feeling blessed to feeling cheated—all in about two seconds flat. Isn’t it amazing how one minute you can be satisfied and the next you’re not? There’s a word for that and I think it is pretty close to sin. And the crazy part is, it doesn’t just happen on a mission trip to the Philippines–it happens to a lot of folks on any given day. We are content until we see how the other half lives. I think it is something like the grass is always greener somewhere else.
Paul said something quite amazing in Philippians 4:12 “I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Oh, and by the way, when Paul wrote those words, he was sitting in a dark, dank, stinking Roman prison. Ouch.
I think all of us need to learn Paul’s secret to joy–be content! The truth is most of us have it a lot better than 90% of the world! The truth is if we take a look around, we will find that our Heavenly Father has filled our world with “love notes” that simply, yet profoundly, say, “Just to say, I love you.”
Whether our world has a healthy dose of bumps or if the sun shines consistently, if it is corona crazy or as smooth as a lake at sunset, we have so many reasons to be thankful…to be content. Why not take the time today to look around and be thankful for what you have rather than be rattled about what you don’t have? After all, hasn’t the Giver proven Himself over and again? Hasn’t He “shown off” time and again in His lavish grace and love? Sure, He has. It’s time to settle back and take a rest. After all, He’s got this.