Some secrets are safe even when you tell them to others, because some secrets must be lived, rather than known. I found this secret buried deep in a stack of letters from a man stuck in prison. The kind of prison where you had to provide your own food and clothing, which was a problem because you were in prison. If you were out of friends you were outta luck. The kind of prison where you sat before you went to trial, wondering if you were going to trial. The man in prison had been beaten, healed, scarred, and beaten again. Shipwrecked three times, and far from home. Still, he had a secret, and he shared it with his friends: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of contentment in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4: 11-12)”
This man, Paul: a follower of Jesus, was falsely accused and in prison awaiting trial for more than a year. Yet he had discovered the secret of contentment. Can you imagine yourself, in the midst of all those circumstances Paul faced, content?
The Secret of Contentment
Contentment is perhaps even more of a secret today because the Western world is locked up in its own striving and appetites, wholly unaware of its blessings. Can we hear Paul’s whisper through the clamour of consumerism today? Consider just a few insights into his secret:
- Contentment does not depend on circumstances: Paul could be content in the midst of plenty or little. In our world plenty is not enough: each of us know first-hand people who cannot be at rest even when they are surrounded by every comfort. Worse: some it’s us.