secret of being content

(J.R. Miller, “The Wider Life” 1908)selections LISTEN to audio!  Download audio

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances and know what it is to be in need, and what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry or living in plenty or in need.” Philippians 4:11-12The secret of being content

Life is a ‘school’. All its experiences are ‘lessons’.

We are all in ‘Christ’s school and He is always ‘educating’ us.

Disciples are ‘learners’ and all true Christians are disciples.
We have everything to learn.
Each new experience is a new lesson set for us by the great Teacher.

Paul tells us of one of the lessons he had learned in the ‘school of experience’. “I have learned,” he said, “the secret of being content in any and every situation.” We are glad to know that Paul had to learn to be contented. We are apt to think that such a man as he was, did not have to learn to live as we common people do. Here, however, we have the confession that he had to ‘learn the lesson’ just as we do. He was well on in years when he said this, from which we conclude that it took him a long time to learn the lesson–and that it was not easy for him to do it. Christ’s school is not easy.

Sorrow is a choice lesson in Christ’s school. Sorrow is not an accident breaking into our life, without meaning or purpose. God could prevent the coming of the sorrow if He so desired and nothing can touch the life of any of His children–unless He is willing. Since we know that God loves us and yet permits us to suffer–we may be quite sure that there is a blessing, something good, in whatever it is that brings us pain or sorrow.

THE SECRET OF BEING CONTENT

We shrink from pain. We would run away from afflictions. But there are things worth suffering for–things dearer than ease and pleasure. We learn lessons in pain, which repay a thousand times the cost of our tears!

The Bible tells us that God preserves the tears of His children, putting them in His tear-bottle. Tears are sacred to God, because of the blessings that come through them, to His children. In Heaven, we will look back on our lives of pain and sorrow on the earth, and will find that our best lessons have come through our tears!

All the Christian graces have to be learned in ‘Christ’s school’. There Paul had learned contentment. He never would have learned it, however, if he had had only pleasure and ease all his life. Contentment comes from learning to do without things, which we once supposed to be essential to our comfort. Paul had learned contentment through finding such fullness of blessing in Christ–that he did not need the ‘secondary things’ anymore.

The continuity of blessings that flow like a river into our lives, gives us no opportunity to learn contentment.

When sufferings come into our life . . .
disagreeable things, instead of pleasant things;
hunger and poverty, instead of plenty;
rough ways, instead of flower-strewn paths;
God is teaching us the ‘lesson of contentment’ so that we can say at length that we have learned the secret of being content!

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