Rev. Dr. Homer Larsen
Learning to Be Content
“Contentment never comes from the possession of external things. As the poet George Herbert wrote, ‘For he that needs five thousand pounds to live is full as poor as he that needs but five.’” I borrow this from William Barclay, one of England’s greatest preachers.
St. Paul wrote to the Philippian congregation, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12, 13).
Paul had learned to be content. When he was first converted to the Christian faith, I am not sure he was content, for the first three years of his Christian life were very difficult for the apostle.
I was a college student before I learned the meaning of contentment. Christ assured me in his Word that, through faith in him, a
place had been prepared for me in heaven. Through the years as I have lived with him, I have experienced that he is always with me. From this, then, I have the assurance of his presence on this earth. I also have the promise of eternal life when these days are over.
However, I have not always been happy. I have experienced jealousy when others had possessions I did not have. I have had trouble understanding why my wife had a major stroke and was sentenced to a wheelchair for the rest of her days. During the early days of my retirement, I was quite unsettled. The list could go on and on.
But then God began to deal with me through his Word and others who love me. With more than a gentle rebuke, he said, “How can you, who have been blessed in so many ways, be so ungrateful?” And God used my wife, especially, to help me learn to be content.
Yes, I am still learning the meaning of contentment, as was St. Paul. To be fully content has yet to come. Contentment is a blessing we can carry with us to the grave and beyond.
When we have a personal relationship with God made possible through Jesus Christ, we can truly learn to be content.