Story of the Day for Thursday November 24, 2011
Looking in the Right Place
I have learned to be content – no matter what happens. I know what it’s like to live in humble circumstances, and what it’s like to have abundance. In any and every situation: whether well fed or hungry, whether living in prosperity or poverty, I have learned the secret of contentment. I have strength for anything through Him who empowers me.
Whenever we are highly motivated to do something, like building a garage or ridding our lawn of dandelions, we can usually achieve our goal. Yet, when it comes to far higher goals, like happiness and contentment, we are often pretty much clueless. What do you need to be content? The knee-jerk response is “more money.” We would be embarrassed to admit it to anyone, but there is a part of us that believes this. (Even though research on this subject consistently reports that the wealthiest Americans, as a class, are the most unhappy, we still believe it.)
My family used to live in an old mansion (built in the late 1800s by a lumber baron). It had five fireplaces, stained-glass windows along one of the upstairs steps. The third floor was built to house the butlers and maids. The dining room was built in a half-circle with a cathedral ceiling. My daughter counted the rooms one day. Twenty-eight.
Did this enormous house bring us pleasure and enjoyment? Absolutely!
But then, when we moved to Montana, we lived way up a mountain in a one-room cabin with a barrel stove for heat and pack rats annoyed by our intrusion. And you know what? We enjoyed that old cabin just as much as our mansion.
Just as we believe that wealth is the secret to contentment, so we often hear people say, “As long as you have your health, that’s all that matters.”
Great. So what happens if you lose your health? As counterintuitive as it may sound, people who lose their health often report surprisingly high levels of well-being. Did you know that, among quadriplegics (those paralyzed from the neck down), only 16% of them consider their happiness to be below average? The overwhelming majority consider their well-being to be higher than average!
The apostle Paul is talking about finding the secret to contentment. He has known wealth and poverty. As he writes these words, he is in prison. What has he found that gives him such a remarkable sense of joy in such a dire situation?
Paul is not controlled by circumstances. No matter what his situation in life, he’s on an adventure. He can sincerely enjoy the pleasures in life but he is not dependent on any circumstance in order to be content. He knows that he is in the hands of his wise and caring Lord. He knows that in every situation he can find power from Jesus to love others and know that his life has purpose and challenge.
If you are still seeking contentment, make sure you’re looking for it in the right place.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)