Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Paul says contentment is something he learned. It is not our natural tendency to be content. We always want more, bigger, better, the new and improved – thinking that will bring us contentment. I could be happy if I ….. had a nicer car, was married, lived in a different place, had different parents, had a better job, on and on it goes. The eye of man is never satisfied (Proverbs 27:20).
Paul says what he learned is a secret but he then gives a clue to the secret. If he can be content in all circumstances obviously contentment does not come from outside us, the circumstances that surround us. He then reveals the source of his contentment – learning to draw his strength from the Lord.
His ability to be content does not come from his own strength, from positive confessions or from a positive mental attitude rather his strength, ability to remain content even in hunger and want, is a gift from the Lord. The Lord could have given him food but chose instead to give him strength to be content without food. The Lord could have provided all he needed but chose instead to give Paul strength to learn contentment even in need. Apparently God saw greater value in learning contentment than in having a full belly, accumulating character rather than accumulating stuff.
If you are going through a time when it seems God has turned a deaf ear to your prayers – you seem to always come up short, in need, perhaps a little hungry – God has not abandoned you. Rather He is doing a greater work, giving you what He considers a more precious gift, building character and virtue in you.
Embrace Him. Draw from His strength. Learn the secret He shared with Paul and is now letting you in on also. Every great man or woman of God has gone through exactly what you are going though – “the dark night of the soul”. It is part of the potter’s process to conform you to His image.
1 Timothy 6:5-8 (NIV)
… men of corrupt mind think … that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain.