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Picture this. A special someone has just turned sixteen. Mom and dad love their boy and want him to be happy so they went out and secured a loan for a brand new Ford F-150 (if you're not a Ford person, then picture a solid vehicle of your choosing; Chevy? Dodge? Honda? Subaru?, whatever floats your boat) to give to their newly minted driver on his birthday. The birthday boy knows that something is in the works and his anticipation is sky high. Mom and dad treat him to a special meal at his favorite restaurant and then as they exit the building into the parking lot mom and dad walk him up to the brand new truck and deliver the news, "Happy birthday! It's yours". "Are you kidding me?" is the boy's reply, but it's not the "are you kidding me" you'd expect, one that you would expect to be followed up with, "you guys are the best! I can't believe you got me a new car. You are the best parents a kid could ever ask for! Thanks mom and dad!" No, no, no. This is the other type of "are you kidding me". The type you might say when, while driving, someone pulls out in front of you with no remorse and you only avoid an accident because of your quick moves behind the wheel. "Are you kidding me? I thought you were going to walk me to that car (pointing to a new Mercedes Benz a couple of parking spots over). I can't believe you are giving me such an average vehicle for my sixteenth birthday! Jeff's parents gave him a BMW for his birthday. I can't believe it." End scene.
I'm sure you know this (and feel it after reading that paragraph), but no one likes a spoiled brat. Their sense of entitlement, never being satisfied with anything, insatiable appetite for more, self-centeredness, and general lack of care for anything or anyone but themselves and their own interests is genuinely disgusting. This imaginary boy in the story above is a good example of a spoiled brat and surely we can all agree that it would be a sad and infuriating case if it were reality. Of course the boy would not be alone in receiving blame for his behavior if it were true. The parents would bear a fair bit of the weight themselves because no sixteen year old boy could get to that moment without years of terrible parenting preceding it. Blame would rightly rest on the parents and the boy. But what if it was even worse? What if the parents were super rich and they got the boy the most luxurious car money could buy? And what if the boy still pitched a fit because it wasn’t a car and a yacht? That would expose a heart even more self centered and twisted than the above story. Could you imagine a person so ungrateful?
The truth is any amount of discontentment in the heart (evidenced by grumbling and complaining, Phil. 2:14) of a disciple of Jesus Christ is worse than the imaginary scenarios above. The God of the universe has given us His one and only Son in order that through faith in His death and resurrection we might become co-heirs with Him of all things (Romans 8:31-39). God has mercifully “caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4. This is why Paul says in Philippians 4:12-13 that the secret to being content in any and every circumstance is Jesus Christ. Paul knew he could do all things with rejoicing and contentment because he had everything he could ever want or need in the person of Christ. Could you imagine a child that spat in the face of their father when they received a wildly outlandish gift that they did not deserve? You and I are that child when we grumble and complain about life, even if life is hard by objective standards. God has lavished us (those of us who have and are trusting in Christ for our salvation) with the greatest gift that we could ever be given. Rejoice (Phil. 4:4, 10)! Be content with what you have (Phil. 4:10-12). Share with others, especially those who are doing the work of the gospel (Phil. 4:14-20). Being truly content (the opposite of being filled with anxiety over worldly concerns) can only come from a strong connection with and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. When you are trusting in Christ you will find that you can do all things through Him who strengthens you!
Yes, you can endure and rejoice in spite of the painful memories of abuse, manipulation, or betrayal. You can endure and be content even when you discover that you lost thousands (or more) in the stock market crash or that your business shut down because of the coronavirus. You can endure and be satisfied even when there is constant conflict in your family. If things changed drastically in our country you could endure prison, ridicule, and persecution through trusting in Christ and relying on the strength He provides. We have overcome the world and its brokenness through our faith in Christ (1 John 4:4-5). We are more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8:37). We have the great hope of enjoying our God and Savior for all eternity in new glorified bodies (Phil. 3:20-21) with our eternal inheritance at our disposal. If these realities do not create a peaceful contentment in your inner being then you are more like the imaginary boy at the beginning of this post then you realize. Stop being a brat! Do not make the mistake of always looking for more of what the world has to offer. Jesus will satisfy your deepest longings and give to you more generously than you ever thought possible. Trust in Him completely. Allow the good news of Jesus Christ, even Christ himself, to work in you a more humble, grateful, joyful, generous and content spirit! To God be the glory!