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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Paul’s state of contentment is not based on the situation. If you have read about Paul’s life you know that there are times when it goes really well, and times when it goes really wrong from a human, or comfort point of view.
Paul’s contentment is a learned experience of life. Paul makes a clear statement that he has “learned” from each of his trials. Whether the situation is good or bad, comfortable or painful, God is revealing truth to him in the situation. He has learned from them.
What did Paul learn? “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Paul’s contentment is based in relationship to Jesus. It is through Christ, not the situation changing, but by the presence of God, that Paul experiences contentment. So, contentment comes as a manifestation of the presence of Christ and is not a matter of any situation coming to a good resolution.
How does Paul come into a contented place? One of the best illustrations of Paul’s contentment comes in Philippi where our focus scripture was written to. If you remember the story in Acts 16, Paul and Silas had been successfully proclaiming the gospel in Philippi and they get thrown into prison for setting a demonized girl free. About midnight they are in shackles and very depressed; no, they are in prison and worshipping and praying and giving praise to Jesus. Their life is based not on the circumstance, but on inviting the presence of Christ through a living relationship of worship, prayer and meditation on the Truth. By seeking the glory of God first in our lives. We can learn from Paul. We can learn true contentment, living in peace and the rest of knowing we are cared for. We can learn contentment by seeking the presence, truth, life, love of God in a moment-by-moment lifestyle. The contentment of Christ’s presence is at your fingertips.