There is a story about Mother Theresa (could be more legend than truth, not sure), where this young man travels across the world to see her. After trekking across continents to see this wonderful woman, she agrees to see him.
He gets to Mother Theresa and he asks her to pray for him. “I don’t know what to do,” he says. “There are so many directions to take, things I could do. Will you pray for me that I would know what to do?”
Mother Theresa answered: “I will not pray for that.”
He was shocked. He had come half way around the world to get this woman to pray for him, but she refused.
“What you need is peace,” Mother Theresa continued. “I will pray for peace.”
I am more and more convinced that one of the greatest needs of a Christian is to learn how to apply the peace that the Lord gives by faith and just be content.
Our God is not an anxious or nervous God. He is pictured for us seated on a throne. Jesus sat down before He taught. Jesus never rushed anywhere He went. And the Spirit we are given from Him is not one of fear but “power, love, and a sound mind.” We are told to be “anxious for NOTHING.”
What you need is peace.
Paul had to “learn” this. If you’re waiting for God to just give you contentment, probably won’t just happen. You have to learn it. And that generally means you’ll be put in situations where you would normally not be content.
Paul says, “I’ve learned that whatever state I am in, 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.”
Philippians 4:13. First verse I ever memorized. I was probably five years old or so. I thought it meant that I could do these awesome things like fly or lift buildings or be some sort of superhero. Made sense to me, I went few places in those days without wearing a cape.
Not that God cannot and does not empower us to do great and miraculous things, but that’s not the point Paul is making. Paul says, “I can be content in EVERY circumstance because of Christ who strengthens me.” All things means all things … oh yeah, I just went over that with “God will make all things new.”
Both Paul and Jesus tell us to be content with food and clothing. Didn’t they have shelter in those days? Oh yeah, they did, and other luxuries.
So how do you get this contentment? How do you learn it? Well, it’s been my experience that you cannot just deny certain desires.
You have to replace them.
Jesus says to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” Paul says that “godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Are you seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Do you have faith that in that seeking you will find your satisfaction and contentment? Are you a godly person?
Jesus, when with the woman at the well, ministered to her. After, His disciples came back to Him with some food. He said, “I’ve already eaten. My food is to do the will of My Father.” His obedience to the Father satisfied even His physical hunger! This just after telling the woman that He has water, that if she drinks it, she will never thirst again. That is complete satisfaction.
In the wilderness during His temptation, Jesus says, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that continually proceeds from the mouth of God.” Who is the Word that proceeds from God? Jesus. He also says that He Himself is the manna from heaven. The manna from Moses’ time was miraculous, but still bread that if you ate it you would be hungry tomorrow and those men all died. But if you eat of the Bread of Heaven, you will be satisfied and never die!
I often see believers unsettled and unsatisfied. I call them “chasers”. They chase the next thing, sometimes get it, but are always unsatisfied because of it. Their actions are often geared towards finding the perfect situation that will satisfy them (the right mate, the right job, the right house, the right place to live, the right way to use their talents, the right church, the right prophet, the right meeting, the right blah blah blah). None of these things are in and of themselves bad, but they will not satisfy you. You were not born again of the incorruptible seed to be satisfied by the things of this world. You were born again to be satisfied by Christ Himself, His Kingdom and His righteousness.
Anyone who knows me knows I am not advocating passivity or a lack of action. But the root of that action must be a place of godliness with contentment, a place of peace with God and satisfaction with Him. Then our actions will be placed in their proper context and not be idols we seek to gain more from than they were meant to give.
Peace. (sorry so long!)