Photo Above: Giza Necropolis, Egypt. Photographer: Yasser Nazmi
Being Thankful and Content
“I remember winning the Super Bowl that year, and that night after the game I was the first one out of the locker room, the first one to the press conference, and the first one to go home. And I remember my wife, Carolyn, saying to me, “Baby, you just won the Super Bowl! Don’t you have a party downstairs or something to go to?” And I just said, “Nah,” and rolled over and went to sleep. That was the same week I bought myself a brand new $275,000 Lamborghini, and I haven’t even driven a mile before I realized, “No, that’s not it. That’s not what I’m looking for. It’s got to be something else, I’m so hungry.” Power, money, and sex. How success almost ruined my life. Deion Sanders
“Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5
Once a year we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US. We celebrate by stuffing our faces full of turkey, pumpkin pie, and many other great foods. This is all great but it is easy to just see Thanksgiving as a day off to eat a ton food and then to fall into a turkey coma.
Thanksgiving can be a great time to remember our blessings and be thankful for them. But I believe thankfulness is actually much deeper than counting what possessions we have as blessings. The key to thankfulness is to find our contentment outside of what we have, (little or much) and to find it in Christ alone.
We see in the scriptures that the Apostle Paul learned to be content in whatever circumstances he found himself in and find strength and contentment in God alone:
“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:11-13
Paul’s words are significant, because they come from someone who experienced a life of hardship while living for Christ. We know that the Apostle Paul was beaten countless times, was beaten with rods three different times, on five separate occasions received 39 lashes, was shipwrecked three different times, was in constant danger, suffered hunger and thirst on many occasions, and was imprisoned many times as well.* In fact he wrote at least four letters from prison. In one of these letters he wrote to the Phillipian church “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”**
Paul found his contentment and pleasure in living for God alone. He was consumed by the gospel. His intense focus on the gospel took his focus away from whatever personal situation he found himself in. My personal hope is that as I grow and mature in the gospel I will shift the focus of my contentment away from my possessions and towards God alone.
*2 Corinthians 11:24-28