Thanksgiving and the Secret of Contentment

“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.” Philippans 4:12

I remember the day clearly…

It was an elementary school Christmas party. We had a gift exchange. All of my classmates received shiny new toys, and all I got was a writing pen. I was upset as I focused on what my classmates had received.

I remember that day clearly because of my lack of appreciation.

You see, my best friend Steve gave me that writing pen. He had been so excited to give it to me. He saved his money and sacrificed to give me that pen. Steve was an orphan. No parent helped him. The pen was a true expression of how much he valued our friendship. By comparison, the other gifts – including the one I had given him – meant little.

I still can’t believe how much I must have hurt him. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the incredible value of his gift. By that time I had completely lost track of Steve.

A Time to Reflect

Do you think a lot about the gifts you’ve given and received? Do you obsess about what you don’t have? Do all the marketing messages that surround you focus your eyes in the wrong place and zap your contentment?

These are things we often think about at Thanksgiving – and the consumer oriented holidays that have grown up around it: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

For example, in the last session of the new version of Discipleship Explored (available March 2018), Barry Cooper cites a poll of Americans that asked them how much they would need to realize the “American Dream.”

Those who earned $25,000 a year said it would take $54,000 a year. Those who made $100,000 a year believed it would take $192,000 a year.

In other words, the poll indicated that most people think that it will take about twice as much as they currently have!

The Biblical Secret of Contentment

The Apostle Paul makes a remarkable statement about contentment:

“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.” Philippians 4:12

We need that secret today.

A first hint of that secret is found in Philippians 4:6: “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” There is a direct correlation between giving thanks and experiencing contentment.

A second hint is found in Philippians 4:19, where Paul speaks of the riches we have “in Christ Jesus.” Or, as Barry Cooper says in Discipleship Explored, “I am in Christ. I’m unimaginably rich in him!”

As you reflect upon gifts and giving during this holiday season, may you consider yourself rich in Christ and may this secret of contentment bless you greatly and become for you an eternal source of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by Martin Cathrae / CC BY

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