I’ve been reading through an interesting set of books. During my personal time of reading the bible, I’ve been reading Paul the Apostle’s “prison letters” Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. These were letters that Paul wrote while he was under chained guard, and house arrest in the city of Rome while he awaited an opportunity to appeal his legal case to Caesar. Prison letters have a long running tendency of becoming great works that have great impact in history. Sometimes these prison letters have sparked great evil, as in the case of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, while many other prison letters have sparked revolutionary changes in society as in the case of Martin Luther King’s Jr.s Letter from Birmingham Jail, John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress, and Nelson Mandela’s Conversations with Myself. What is stunning to me about Paul’s letters from prison is his level of joy and contentment that just bleeds through the pages of his writings. He’s stuck but he’s filled with joy. He’s chained 24 hours a day but he has a clear sense of vision and purpose. He has his freedom largely taken away from him but he’s content.
In Philippians 4: 11-13 he writes, 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 well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
When you’re a good consumer like me, you get pretty good at discontentment. You constantly live with this squeezing feeling that someone, somewhere is getting more and better at much lower cost than you are getting of whatever it is you’d like to get more of for your enjoyment. I want to learn the rhythms of contentment from Jesus, so that whatever my circumstances – whether I have more or less, I have pain or a party, I can be content in what God is doing in and through the actual life that I’m living. I want to be the kind of person who can double down on the life I have right now