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Contentment: Learning to be Content in All Circumstances

Contentment: Learning to be Content in All Circumstances

Read 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

“My grace is sufficient for you…therefore I am well content with weaknesses…”

When we think of contentment, we often focus on our attitude towards money and possessions. But genuine contentment goes far beyond these. Learning to be content requires that we learn to be content in all circumstances we face in life. It is one thing to be content with our financial portfolio, it is quite another to be content in every situation and status we have in life. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul recounts the incredible experience he had when he was allowed a privilege very few humans have experienced, the opportunity to have a glimpse of heaven. Such an experience could easily result in pride and a feeling of spiritual superiority. To prevent Paul from becoming spiritually arrogant, God brought adversity into his life. What the proverbial “thorn in the flesh” has been widely speculated by biblical commentators. Some have suggested that it was some form of spiritual adversity such as demonic oppression, or a struggle with a particular temptation or even deep guilt and remorse for his violence against the church. Others have identified physical difficulties such as periodic bouts of malaria, or the frustration of being nearly blind because of eye damage suffered from his persecution and beatings or disease affecting his eyesight. Some commentators have suggested emotional struggles stemming from struggles with depression or the ongoing effects of stress in his ministry. Each has some biblical support from the writings of Paul. Whatever the circumstance, it was sufficiently troubling to Paul that he earnestly prayed for God to bring him relief.

Surprising God does not answer Paul’s request by bringing deliverance from the situation weighing heavily upon Paul. Instead, God instead reminded Paul of his sufficient grace. The word “sufficient” is derived from the same root word that is translated contentment in other passages. In other words, Paul needed to realize that his contentment in life comes from God’s grace rather than his circumstances. Contentment is more than just being content with God’s provision of our physical and material needs. Contentment also encompasses our attitude in the face of life’s daily challenges. Sometimes it is easier to be content with our financial status, especially when we have our daily needs met, but can be far more difficult to be content in adverse circumstances. But this is what Paul learned. Because of his awareness of God’s grace, which brought the assurance of his salvation and eternal standing before God, he could be content in every condition of life, no matter what it might be. Thus, Paul could be content in the face of persecution and attacks. He could be content with his own shortcomings and weaknesses. He could be content when life seemed overwhelming.

When we think of contentment, we often focus on our attitude towards money and possessions. But genuine contentment goes far beyond these. Learning to be content requires that we learn to be content in all circumstances we face in life. It is one thing to be content with our financial portfolio, it is quite another to be content in every situation and status we have in life. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul recounts the incredible experience he had when he was allowed a privilege very few humans have experienced, the opportunity to have a glimpse of heaven. Such an experience could easily result in pride and a feeling of spiritual superiority. To prevent Paul from becoming spiritually arrogant, God brought adversity into his life. What the proverbial “thorn in the flesh” has been widely speculated by biblical commentators. Some have suggested that it was some form of spiritual adversity such as demonic oppression, or a struggle with a particular temptation or even deep guilt and remorse for his violence against the church. Others have identified physical difficulties such as periodic bouts of malaria, or the frustration of being nearly blind because of eye damage suffered from his persecution and beatings or disease affecting his eyesight. Some commentators have suggested emotional struggles stemming from struggles with depression or the ongoing effects of stress in his ministry. Each has some biblical support from the writings of Paul. Whatever the circumstance, it was sufficiently troubling to Paul that he earnestly prayed for God to bring him relief.

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