*I began writing this for #FiveMinuteFriday where the prompt for this week is the word want, but I couldn’t just stop after five minutes. We all have wants and needs, but are we content?
What are my wants? What do I need?
Is there a point where want and need coincide?
I want new floors in my kitchen, dining room and upstairs bathroom. I could argue that those wants are real needs. All three floors are in need of repair or replacement. They are not only unsightly but could be dangerous in the areas that are broken or uneven. (updated June, 2017, to say that we did get new floors in the kitchen and dining room!)
I want to remodel the downstairs bathroom to make it more accessible to our mostly wheelchair bound son. Right now there is no place for him to shower unless someone carries him upstairs. So I would also consider this want to be a need.
I want to find a van that has a ramp and a place for the wheelchair to fit so that my son doesn’t have such a hard time when he wants to go out somewhere. To me that is also a need that is high in priority. (updated June, 2017, to say we got a van and a portable ramp, so that it’s easier to get the wheelchair in the van, though my son still has to slide into the van from the wheelchair. It’s definitely an improvement over what we had.)
WILL NEEDS BE MET?
Obviously, all those wants/needs can’t be tackled at the same time. So we need to think of them in order of priority, and then one by one try to make them happen.
Where does contentment come in to play when I think of these wants and needs?
*(Here is where my five minutes ended.)
Learning To Be Content
Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he had learned to be content no matter what the situation. He goes on to say in verses 12-13:
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 well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:12-13 NIV)
Paul certainly did not have everything easy or in perfect condition. He was not always healthy, and even had a “thorn in the flesh” that was always with him. God did not take it away, though Paul pleaded.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
(II Cor. 12:8-9 NIV )
Can I Learn Contentment?
We all face unwanted things like hard decisions, danger, sickness, death, and the list goes on. Our circumstances do not always change when we pray and put our trust in God, but we are still instructed to trust Him. We wonder how God’s grace can be sufficient when nothing seems to change, and we continue to have needs.
I think the key is learning to be content no matter what the circumstances. How can we do this? Like Paul we need to remember that God is the one who will enable us to trust Him. He will give us the strength we need. Once again in Philippians 4, we are given insight into how Paul found contentment.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:4-7 NIV)
God Gives Peace
God will give us peace in every circumstance. We need to go to him in prayer, remembering to give thanks, and make our requests. We are given further instructions as to how to find peace and contentment:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 NIV )
To be content doesn’t mean I always have to like the circumstances in which I find myself. I can have contentment in my heart even though my floors still need work and we still need to make things easier for our son. There is nothing wrong with making changes when time and money become available.
Why should I Worry?
I don’t need to worry about how or when or who will meet my needs. I can trust God to guide me, and in the meantime continue to do what I can with what I have right now. I can trust God to guide me, and in the meantime continue to do what I can with what I have right now.