Jeremiah Burroughs, Puritan pastor and author, wrote: Our contentment does not consist in getting the thing we desire, but in God’s fashioning our spirit to our conditions.
I have been thinking a lot about this statement on contentment over the last few weeks. I confess that I am only a novice, a beginning student, in Christ’s school of contentment. Even though there are many undeserved blessings in my life, I still struggle at times with discontentment.
Burroughs’ words are challenging and convicting. They call into question our motives and ambitions. They call us up short when trying to justify our own personal reasons for discontent.
Our thoughts tend to run in this direction—if only I had this job or this relationship or this much money or this home in that place—then I would be content.
Burroughs goes on to explain that when we get to this point, we have lost Christ as our greatest treasure and have put our hope and security in the things of this world. Since only Christ can really satisfy, even when we get what we desire we find that it did not bring the contentment we anticipated.
His statement also shows that the Lord has something bigger in mind than simply fulfilling all our desires. He is interested in changing us at the level of the heart. In the words of Burroughs, God is interested in fashioning our spirit to our conditions. He asks us, in effect, can you trust me to be your contentment in your present circumstances even if you do not receive what you desire?
In Philippians 4:10-19, the Apostle Paul speaks about contentment and makes these challenging but comforting points:
- Contentment is learned through experience. Paul learned to be content in being hungry and in abundance because he had experienced those things (vs.11-12).
- The source of contentment is our relationship with Christ. Paul writes the famous verse: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. While this verse has wide applications, its immediate application in the context is that our relationship with Christ is the foundation of our contentment. He enables us to be content (vs. 13).
- God has provided all you need for God-glorifying contentment. Paul talks about how God supplies all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Again, while this verse has wide applications, in context it speaks about how God supplies everything we need to be content (vs. 19).
As I said at the beginning, I consider myself only a novice in Christ’s school of contentment but I am praying that I will be a good student and will be learning what He has to teach.
You can pray for me and I would be glad to pray for you too.