What Would It Take?

“Look! Hermana Cristina! I made a swing for Angie!” Carlos proudly showed me the scrap rubber strip that he had tied to a long piece of rope and hung from the avocado tree. His sister Angie happily swung back and forth on their new creation.

“That’s really creative, Carlos!” As I entered their backyard, I saw the other children playing in the dirt. Four barefoot boys crouched on their hands and knees, carefully constructing streets and tunnels. Scraps of wood and metal became their houses and bridges. The only real toy they had was an old Tonka truck. They methodically passed it from one boy to the next, each taking a short turn to maneuver the dirt roads. They laughed and talked happily, swatting mosquitoes all the while.

What would it take to make us happy? A different job? A newer house? An expensive car? More respect from our spouse? More compliant children?

According to Paul, we simply need a lesson in contentment. He writes in Philippians 4:11-12: “…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Contentment is an acquired skill that requires discipline of the mind and humility of the heart. It is not dependent on circumstances or the actions of others.

People often ask us, “Do you like living in Honduras? Don’t you miss hot water? You don’t have a dishwasher? Isn’t it really hot?” Actually, we struggled just as much with contentment in the States as we do now. Change of surroundings make no difference at all. When our hearts focus on seeking “first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” we are happy and content. When we take our eyes off Him, we allow room for complaining and resentment.

One of my favorite shows to watch is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which we can occasionally see here in Honduras. One day, Cinthia, a girl from our church was visiting, and we watched it together. As the workers began to demolish the house, she exclaimed, “They are tearing down that house! What’s wrong with it?” In that moment, I pictured Cinthia’s little two-room cinderblock house with an outdoor shower and clay stove. The house they were tearing down was a dream house to her. It was all a matter of perspective.

Paul goes on to say in Philippians 4, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” We can be content, no matter the situation. Ask the Lord to give you the right perspective—His perspective.
3 Responses
  1. Ricky Says:

    I just worked through a section of 30 challenges in the RU curriculum and... yep, it was on contentment. Steve's definition:

    Contentment is when God's satisfaction replaces my many personal distractions.

    Opposite trait is covetousness: Covetousness is when my wanting exceeds God's granting.

    Very, very convicting.

  2. Gwen Says:

    You are absolutely right. I can look back on my childhood, when we had less than we do now and we were happy. It doesn't take things to make us happy. In fact, the more we have the more we want.
    I'm thankful you see it that way!

  3. Kimberly Henderson Grainger Says:

    Oh, what rich, difficult truth, girl! About 8 mos. after we'd moved here, I was really struggling: Mom had hives, your dad and Uncle Bert had cancer, homeschooling was tough, we'd left life-long friends, and it was truly "dead of winter." Pouring my heart out to the wise, 80-year-old saint, Mrs. Stange, at one of our Ladies' Meetings, I felt justified in my complaint. Grandma Stange sagely and simply commented, "Well, Kimberly, contentment is a choice." It was a turning point in our new lives up here. What a blessing to have people who'll speak truth, lovingly, into our lives! I've thanked Mrs. Stange several times for her wisdom, and she waves it off, but her godly wisdom was just the truth I'd needed, and in God's perfect timing. You'd love Mrs. Stange, btw, she reminds me sooo much of Grandma!
    Miss you, cous! Let's chat again, soon! Maybe this weekend?!?

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