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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

The Jewel of Contentment

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances."

(Philippians 4:11 NKJV)

In the midst of the problems and changes that we encounter in increasingly distressing times, we need to rediscover a way of of living that allows one to climb any peak, albeit slowly. An underutilized resource, because it is usually buried by dissatisfaction general as the pearl of great value is contentment, that is, being content with one's state regardless of where we are or what we are facing. Easier said than done, some might argue. So I invite you to turn your attention to Scripture and be inspired and lead.


The apostle Paul was imprisoned in a dungeon when he externalizes this incredible truth. Rather than being dominated by bitterness, which is capable of blurring vision and turning away from God, he declares, "I have learned to be content." According to historians, he was confined in a cramped environment "dug into the earth 3/6 meters deep," not at all hospitable, but "disgusting and horrible because of the dirt, darkness and stench." In that room, 2 meters high, 9 meters long and 7 meters wide, were thrown the "prisoners condemned to die by strangulation or starvation." The cell of Paul was not remotely related to today's prisons, those respectable ones made of masonry and, most importantly, with toilets, food and clothing. Moreover, some some inmates are allowed to work and interact with others, albeit to a limited extent. In this terrible place, he writes to the believers in Philippi what many consider to be the most joyful text in the Bible, in which are expressed gratitude (1:3), hope (1:20) and trust in the Lord (2:19). In this letter joy is mentioned more than fifteen times.


Thank God, most of us are among those who do not spend their days locked up within the walls of a cell. Nevertheless, we are terribly apathetic, easily demoralized and disappointed if something does not go according to our plans or we fail to achieve what we set out to do. Succubi to the media culture that mercilessly compels compulsive buying in exchange for a smile of fulfillment momentary, we are ready to be saddened by the continuum. We still have much to learn, moving from the highs to the lows of life, living in abundance and enduring scarcity, relishing satiety and experiencing hunger. Just what the apostle had known, without making a big deal out of it or losing self-esteem. It is difficult to stand firm and not lose one's temper when everything takes a contrary turn. But it is precisely in these moments that it comes out who we are truly. As anxiety presses in and tries to envelop us, our inner self turns turns to God with prayer, supplication and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6), and it is thus that "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (4:7).


If today, although you are a free person, you feel trapped in a state of confinement, oppressed and crushed by a trial that seems to envelop you like a great serpent, now is the time to strip off of the robes of sadness and move on to gratitude. Consider how much of good so far life has held for you, turning your gaze to territories the scenes of wars or to countries where campaigns have no reason to exist. Another possibility is to start looking at the current difficulty as an opportunity, a chance in which to grow and/or learn. This could be the attitude that can make you declare "I can all things in Christ who strengthens me" (4:13), and thus even rejoice (or not complain) in the darkest moments. The Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs in presenting this rare jewel thus defined it in 1642: "The Christian contentment is that sweet, intimate, quiet disposition of spirit produced by grace which, under all circumstances, freely submits to and is pleased with the wise and paternal will of God."



Weekly Reading Plan Bible # 18

April 29, 1 Kings 8-9; Luke 21:1-19

April 30, 1 Kings 10-11; Luke 21:20-38

May 01, 1 Kings 12-13; Luke 22:1-30

May 02, 1 Kings 14-15; Luke 22:31-46

May 03, 1 Kings 16-18; Luke 22:47-71

May 04, 1 Kings 19-20; Luke 23:1-25

May 05 1 Kings 21-22; Luke 23:26-56

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