March 10, 2016
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What a photo opportunity, a cat taking it easy on an open, turned upside down, umbrella decorated with smiley faces! The cat was so contented it didn’t care I was taking its picture and cooperated fully. This was one cool cat!
Contentment is a wonderful quality to cultivate. Yes, we can cultivate contentment; we can decide to be contented! Dale Carnegie wrote, “It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”
But we live in a media saturated world that tries to get us to think about what we don’t have, causing discontent. Highly developed marketing techniques stimulate our discontent so that we are willing to buy what we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like. We are susceptible because our wants frequently exceed our needs. Contemporary poet Maya Angelou wrote, “We need much less than we think we need.” It turns out that wanting less is a great way to feel wealthy! The ancient philosopher Epictetus put it this way: “Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
I suspect we’ve all had the experience of wanting something really badly and then, when we finally get it, finding that in no time at all we’re disappointed. The disappointment quickly morphs into discontent and we find ourselves wanting something else or something more. How many times does this have to happen before we learn what Socrates taught? “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”
If we believe in an all-loving and all-wise God, then we have to believe that no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in God has a plan for good to come of it. Ultimate contentment comes from ultimate trust in Him. That’s even better than being a contented cat dozing on a smiley face umbrella!
The great apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament of the Bible, faced all kinds of setbacks, difficulties, persecutions, and tragedies in his life. He wrote an amazing statement while imprisoned for his faith that we would do well to apply to our own lives: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11