Advice from Prison on Contentment



Y'all…I LOVE the beach! If you’ve talked to me for more than three minutes, you know this is true. I love humidity, sweating, and the hard work it takes to be tan! This might sound crazy, but I love getting in a car after a day at the beach and there’s sand everywhere! If it has anything to do with the beach, I’m about it!


You might think I live in Florida or California, but I live at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. 


In Fort Collins, Colorado, it snows, on average, fifty inches a year. I moved here two years ago and since then, we’ve experienced two “Bomb Cyclones” of snow, several days in May where it snowed all day, and multiple days where it’s been negative ten degrees. 


Some of you might be thinking, “What the heck is she doing complaining about Colorado?”


I’m not, I think Colorado is amazing! What isn’t amazing, is the cold. I HATE the cold. I don’t understand the point of it. When it snows, I can never seem to get warm enough. It’s uncomfortable. It doesn’t help anything. I could go on and on.  


It probably wouldn’t take long for each of us to think of a situation in our lives that we wish was different.


“I wish COVID could be over with.”

“I wish I went to a different school.” 

“I wish I didn’t have to take summer classes.”

“I wish so and so liked me back.”

“I wish I was skinnier.”

“I wish I was more athletic.”

“I wish I didn’t have to live at home this summer.” 


What comes to mind for you? Whatever it is, have confidence that you are not alone! 


Paul, a major writer of the New Testament, shares one piece of advice about how you can view your circumstances.


“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11

Long story short, Paul was put in prison for being a Christian and he was there for ten years in a  cold, dark, small jail cell, alone with hardly any food or water. Whenever you think about your circumstances, you can look to Paul knowing what he experienced was worse. You would think Paul wrote verse 11 from anywhere but prison, yet that’s where he was. 


A couple verses later Paul says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

When Paul was sitting in prison, he was able to be content because he knew Jesus gives us strength to do ALL THINGS. 


Paul understood that Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, was beaten, mocked, and killed, not just for him, but for all of us! Paul knew that what Jesus did was enough! Paul knew that God would give him the strength to endure any and every circumstance that he would face. 


His contentment didn’t come from fun things to do with friends, or the newest swag Nike’s, or gaining others approval, or whatever it may be. 


Paul’s time in prison shows us two truths about contentment:




TRUE CONTENTMENT COMES FROM JESUS


When we have a right view of Jesus and what He did for us, we’re able to have a right view of our circumstances. When we have a right view, that allows us to be content in our circumstances. This isn’t something we can do on our own! We need the power of Jesus. 




CONTENTMENT IS LEARNED


Contentment isn’t something that is going to happen overnight. Right now, it could be that you want better grades, but in ten years, it could be that you want a nicer house. No matter what the situation may be, it takes reminding yourself where true contentment comes from and that Jesus is enough. 


How would your life look different if you thought of Jesus rather than thinking about what makes you discontent?


Something that always helps me is thinking of what I'm thankful for. I challenge you to make a list of fifty things you’re thankful for! The list can range from family & friends to Chick-fil-A and The Last Dance. I think you’ll be surprised at how much it can help you see your circumstances differently.  


Imagine if you lived the next week, month, or year like Paul – being content whatever the circumstances, being thankful for what you have, and seeing the Gospel for what it really is.


What a life you could live!







Discuss these questions with a friend or spiritual leader to help apply today's reading:


  1. What is one thing in your life you feel discontent about right now?

  2. What stuck out to you about Philippians 4:11?


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