My friend Megan was having a rough day a few months ago and she decided to read her Bible as she lay on the sofa. She started reading Philippians and was reminded that God was asking her to be content regardless of her situation. I kind of forget about that verse/conversation until a few weeks ago when I was reading though Philippians. I underlined it and then forgot about it again. The verses?
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
And that brings me to today. I have been feeling very discontent (which doesn’t even sound like a real word!) for the last few weeks and I haven’t been able to place a finger on it. Yesterday, during a trip to IKEA with Megan, I spoke aloud what it is that has been making me feel unsettled (or restless as I’ve described it to several people in recent days): This is the first time in basically my entire walk with Christ (which I’ll say has been since I was 13, so in 16 years, or more than half of my life) I have ever felt ready to just abandon it all and leave.
I don’t want to justify my lack of peace right now. In this moment, I need to learn to be content. I was talking with Megan’s husband recently and was trying to explain all of this to him. He told me, “You know, it could be that you just need to be obedient to being where you are. God might just be asking that you be willing, and He might not have you go anywhere but where you are.” The moral? Be content in whatever state I’m in, even in the things that I don’t want. Especially in those things that I don’t want.
I’m miserable at work. I work in education and I really love the people with whom I work, but when I see how we spend an incredible amount of money on iPads, all I can think about is how that money could have been used to educate hundreds of kids in Africa. How that money could have bought them food and medication and clothing on top of their education. I spend days working through and against the bureaucracy that isn’t the fault of my boss or her boss, but is just what happens in this field. It’s hard to imagine that I need to be content in this state. (Literally, too. How can anyone be content in California? Wah way wah.)
One of the meanings of “content” in the original Greek is independent of external circumstances. Yeah. I need to be able to be independent of those things. Maybe God is calling me to be obedient at my place of employment simple because it’s a lesson I need to learn. And maybe — hopefully, I pray! — learning to be content in all things is simply a lesson that is part of the larger picture, one where I will not be in this place with waste. I can’t wait to be in a place, whether’s in a ministry here in the United States or somewhere overseas, where I get to give to those who have nothing to spare.