Take a moment and quickly think of 5 things currently on your wish list.
More ministry opportunity.
That’s my list, at least in this moment. It’s good to dream and it’s healthy to have a wish list. The challenge is to try to keep a balance between enjoying what we currently have while still wishing for more. Charles Lamb, a 17th century English writer said, “My motto is: contented with little, yet wishing for more.” Can we be content and still wish for more?
Contentment is greatly misunderstood. Some think it means that we give up all drive and ambition and settle for what “is”. Others think it means we can never be sad, disappointed or grieve. Still others adopt an attitude of positivity no matter what. This could explain why contentment seems to be so elusive.
Contentment is a deep settled peace that what I have is enough… for now. Contentment is experienced in the moment. No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in, no matter what emotion we are feeling, no matter how much more we may want out of life, we are okay right now in this moment.
This seems like a paradox but it was perfectly modeled for us by the Apostle Paul. In the book of Philippians, Paul clearly states, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). This contentment did not mean he did not push forward for he stated earlier in the same epistle, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (3:13). He also said in the first chapter that he was “torn” between going home to be with the Lord and staying on earth to continue ministry (1:23).
Paul said he had “learned” both how to be in need and how to have plenty. He knew the feeling of being in need, lacking what he might have hoped for, wished for or even needed. He also knew the feeling of having plenty, of rejoicing in the overflow of blessings. Neither of these feelings contradicts contentment.
They key is in knowing and trusting the One who is in charge of our past, our present and our future. Trusting that God knows what we need right now and trusting that He knows what we need in the future allows us to be satisfied and content in the moment without becoming complacent. We are not content with the circumstances, we are content in the circumstances because He is present with us.
So whether you are grieving a loss, ambivalent about the way forward, confused by life’s chaos or disappointed by your current status, trust the One who is with you in the present circumstance and trust Him for what you wish for next. Content but not complacent!