Philippians 4:11-12 – Are You Content With Life?

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One of the great myths of life is that we can have good times all the time. If you want to put that fantasy to rest quickly, just talk to an elderly person. They can assure you there's no such thing as a trouble-free life.

Philippians 4:11-12

I am not saying this because I am in need, 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 well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (NIV)

How to Be Content With Your Life

Once we accept the truth that adversity is inevitable, it's not such a shock when trials do come. Sure, they may catch us off-guard, but when we know they are an inescapable part of life, they lose much of their power to make us panic.

When it came to dealing with trouble, the apostle Paul had reached a higher plane of living. He had gone beyond just coping to being content with both good and bad circumstances. Paul learned this priceless lesson in the furnace of suffering. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-27, he detailed the tortures he endured as a missionary for Jesus Christ:


Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.  I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.  I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. (2 Corinthians 11:24–27, NLT)

Through Christ Who Strengthens Me

Fortunately for us, Paul did not keep his secret to himself. In Philippians 4:13, he revealed how he experienced contentment during hard times: "I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength" (NLT).

The strength to be content with life during trouble comes not from begging God to increase our own abilities but by letting Christ live His life through us. Jesus called this "abiding in Him:"

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5, ESV)

Apart from Jesus Christ, we can do nothing. When Christ abides in us and we in Him, we can do "all things."

Paul knew that every moment of life is precious. He refused to let setbacks steal his joy. He knew no earthly tribulation could destroy his relationship with Christ, and that's where he found his contentment.

Even if his outer life was chaos, his inner life was calm. Paul's emotions did not soar too high during abundance, nor did they sink to the depths during need. He let Jesus keep them in check and the result was being content.

Our Source of Peace

Brother Lawrence experienced this kind of contentment with life as well:

"God knows what we need, and all that he does is for our good. If we really knew how much he loves us, we would be ready to receive anything from his hand, the good and the bad, the sweet and the bitter, as if it didn't make any difference. So be satisfied with your condition even if it is one of sickness and distress. Take courage. Offer your pain to God. Pray for strength to endure; adore him even in your infirmities."

For Paul, for Brother Lawrence, and for us, Christ is the only source of true peace. The deep, permanent soul-satisfying fulfillment we are looking for cannot be found in wealth, possessions, or personal accomplishments. Millions of people chase after those things and find that during life's lowest moments, they provide no comfort.

Christ offers authentic peace that can be found nowhere else. We receive it by communing with Him in the Lord's Supper, by reading the Bible, and through prayer. No one can prevent hard times, but Jesus assures us our destiny with Him in heaven is secure no matter what, and that brings the greatest contentment of all.

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Fairchild, Mary. "Philippians 4:11-12 – Are You Content With Life?" Learn Religions, Feb. 7, 2022, learnreligions.com/content-both-good-bad-day-152-701659. Fairchild, Mary. (2022, February 7). Philippians 4:11-12 – Are You Content With Life? Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/content-both-good-bad-day-152-701659 Fairchild, Mary. "Philippians 4:11-12 – Are You Content With Life?" Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/content-both-good-bad-day-152-701659 (accessed May 27, 2022).