The real cause of our discontent is not in our circumstances; if it were, a change of circumstances might cure it. It is in ourselves, and wherever we go, we shall carry our discontent heart with us. The only cure which will affect anything, must be the curing of the fever of discontent in us. A fine secret of contentment, lies in finding and extracting all the pleasure we can get from the things we have, the common, everyday things; while we enter upon no mad, vain chase after impossible dreams. In whatever state we are in, we may find therein enough for our needs.
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. – Philippians 4:11
How can we learn contentment? One step toward contentment is patient submission to unavoidable ills and hardships. No earthly lot is perfect. No mortal ever yet in this world, has found a set of circumstances without some drawback. There are trials which we cannot change into blessings, burdens which we cannot lay down, crosses which we must continue to carry, and thorns in the flesh which must remain with their rankling pain.
When we have such trials, why should we not sweetly accept them as part of God’s best way with us? Discontent never made a rough path smoother, a heavy burden lighter, a bitter cup less bitter, a dark way brighter, a sore sorrow less sore. It only makes matters worse! One who accepts with patience, that which he cannot change, has learned one secret of victorious living.
Another part of the lesson, is that we can learn to moderate our desires. “Having food and clothing,” says Paul again, “let us be content with these.” Very much of our discontent arises from envy of those who seem to be more favored than ourselves. Many people lose most of the comfort out of their own lot in coveting the finer, more luxurious things which some neighbor has. Yet if they knew the whole story of the life they envy for its greater prosperity, they probably would not exchange for it their own lowlier life with its more humble circumstances. Or if they could make the exchange, it is not likely they would find half so much real happiness in the other position, as they would have enjoyed in their own.