The Secret Hidden Inside Contentment

Joy, joy, joy- count it all joy. Choose joy. Joy has become a chant of the faithful as the ultimate side-effect of living a Christian life. John Piper refers to it as Christian hedonism in his book, Desiring God. 

But what IS this pursuit of joy? How do we tackle it in the rough seasons- the desperate seasons- the I AM DONE seasons? How do we even get started pursuing it? For Pete's sake- where is the joy!?! 

This is really good! It was so encouraging! Joy and purpose can be so hard to find... much less hold onto. Especially when things get really hard- marriage falling apart, problems at work, conflicts with friends, difficult child, loss of a loved one or financial security. HOW in the world can we be content and find JOY even in situations like that?

Contentment is defined as: To be free from care because of satisfaction with what is already one's own. 

To be free from care. Because of satisfaction. Satisfaction with what is already owned. By you. 

Hold onto that nugget for a just second. 

In Philippians chapter 1, we find Paul writing to encourage the church at Philippi while he is still imprisoned. As Paul often does, he talks a lot about joy. He's the original joy-chaser. Paul rejoices about almost everything- because Christ is being proclaimed regardless of the circumstance, because of the faith of the Philippians, because they are of the same mind as he is. 

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:18-21)

He rejoices that he is being prayed for, so that through Christ, he will be delivered.

Ya'll let that sink in a moment. He is REJOICING because HE WILL BE DELIVERED.

He doesn't specify how. He doesn't say "I rejoice because I know they're going to let me leave this prison." He simply knows he WILL BE delivered- in someway, somehow, according to God’s perfect will that he trusts in unfailingly.

As a matter of fact- He's rejoicing NOW because he knows he's already BEEN delivered. He knows that when you’re praying to a God that is incapable of unfaithfulness, his asking for FUTURE deliverance is as guaranteed as having already RECEIVED deliverance. He knows that through Christ defying the grave, deliverance has already BEEN delivered.

He is free from care because he has satisfaction with the deliverance that he already owns. (Despite not knowing what KIND of deliverance it might be and despite not having the plans already laid out and in his hands, he rejoices IN THE UNKNOWN.)

In verses 22-24 he says: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 

Paul knew that he was very well facing death. He'd faced it many times as well as extremely cruel and harsh conditions and punishment- all for the sake of the Gospel. And yet he lived in a CONSTANT state of joy! <---- This BEGS the question: HOW?

He goes on to say in Philippians 4:11-13 "... for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." 

Contentment is the condition of being satisfied with what we have. And when we have a relationship with Christ, we can do ALL THINGS through HIS strength. When someone can look you straight in the eye and say "To live is Christ and to die is gain..." What can you do to him? WHAT can steal his joy? What can get him down? Absolutely nothing.

He is content because he has the strength of GOD within him. He cannot fail. 

The secret to a life overflowing with unspeakable joy is operating out of the strength of God, loving him fully, and being completely content in what Jesus Christ did for you and is doing for you right this very second.

It's understanding what you already OWN (and WHO already owns you) so that you can fully realize the deep, untouchable, unfathomable contentment in it.

2 Corinthians 12:10 says: That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

We are weak- so weak. But we are STRONG through our full dependence on Christ. ONLY when we stop trying to control and change and force everything in life into our own plans, our own ways, our own preferences will we reap the incredible joy that's waiting for us.

Only once we are content in the fullness of Christ- the abundant life that he so lavishly provides- can we begin to experience the abundant joy that we ALREADY OWN.  We already have the joy. Grab hold. Let it overwhelm you today.

Now, go grab some pretty printables from The Practical JOY Library as a helper for staying focused on JOY in your day-to-day life- practically speaking ;)