Devotion: Finding Contentment

May 19, 2020

Devotional provided by Rev. Susan Roddey, Director of Spiritual Life at Abernethy Laurels 

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, “...Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.  I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty.  In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and being in need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (4:11-14)

I had a resident describe to me once her state of mind.  She said, “I am not necessarily happy but I am content.”  This was a very helpful distinction she made for me and I appreciated her honestly.  What is the difference between the two?

Paul did not just become content one day.  He had to learn to be content.  He had everything before his conversion experience on the road to Damascus – he was a well-educated and well-respected Jew, a leader in his community.  He was admired for his zeal in pursuing Christians and persecuting them. He was most certainly financially secure.  But when he converted to being a Christian, he lost all the privileges of his role, he lost his reputation in the community, and he started living a life where he could not always depend on a meal or a place to stay.  It was in his struggles that he learned the true meaning of contentment.  Happiness comes and goes and is often dependent on getting what we want.  Contentment is a more enduring state, often learned in the midst of hard times, which is not dependent on what we have or do not have.  It is more deeply rooted in a peace in knowing God will give us the strength to go through anything.

The resident I referred to was not happy about having to leave her home and come to Abernethy Laurels. She grieved it.  But she also learned to accept being in this new place, because she knew God would satisfy her needs.  Her contentment was not based on where she was but in a deeper underlying faith that God provides.  She is an extremely grateful person.  Contented people always are.

Prayer: Bountiful God, we live in a world where we are taught what should make us happy, but not how to find contentment.  Let our roots grow down deep into the well-spring of your joy where through your strength we learn to live our lives in gratitude despite any and all circumstances.  May we know your peace.  Amen.