I have struggled with what Paul wrote to the Philippians when he wrote: “I have learned to be content in any circumstance…I have learned the secret of contentment.” How does one “learn” contentment?
I think I found the clue here in 2Corinthians 12. The background: Some spiritually proud “super apostles” sought to lead the Corinthians astray. Paul knew what they were saying behind his back; he is not becoming in appearance and he isn’t eloquent. What they had not known, and up to this time Paul had not shared, was that 14 years prior to this he had (for lack of better words) an “out of body” experience. Consider this; these so-called super apostles often boasted about their so-called revelations, but, Paul did not. In fact it was not until he had heard enough that he shared what had transpired to keep him humble.
Paul is saying “fast forward” now 14 yrs later. Let me share with you what happened ‘after’ my experience. I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to keep me from spiritual pride; unlike these who had infiltrated the church. It was real; it was painful. I sought at least 3 times to have it removed but Christ said emphatically “no;” I have given you my grace of supernatural enablement.
And now Paul explains the secret of his contentment. He learned that a no answer is not the end but the beginning. A no answer meant that Christ would be his sufficiency in times he would need it most. It meant that the grace he had received was not ‘just enough’ but ‘more than enough.’ It is like the miracle of the loaves and fish. When in need, Christ provided not just enough but abundantly and that is what Christ did for Paul. And that is what Christ will do for you and for me.
The lesson for me, and perhaps you, is that Christ will provide just what I need at just the right time. Contentment is not a one time exercise but an on-going step by step, daily exercise. His grace is truly sufficient.