When I was 19, I remember sitting on a bus with new friends I had made at university. To get to know each other, we played a game where we had to describe ourselves in one word. My word?
Contentment can feel like such an elusive trait, something we all ironically crave. But in that moment, I had such joy in the Lord that I truly felt content. 2 years later, I began to spiral into depression and contentment was far from my mind.
Contentment can so often feel like something we try to 'reach'. We tell ourselves that if we can conquer this particular sin, if we can get that particular job, if that particular person falls in love with me, that we will be content. But this is the exact opposite of what contentment is.
We do not reach contentment once something changes. No, we find contentment right here, in this moment.
Perhaps aside from the Psalms, I believe Paul's letter to the Philippians could be the most incisive biblical text in considering the mind, and how psychology and theology come together.
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 all this through him who gives me strength.
In his walk with the Lord, Paul has come to realise something of incredible value. Contentment is not dependent on circumstance. Rather, the true measure of contentment is that it can be found in all circumstances.
When it comes to depression and anxiety, contentment may be one of the last ideas we would think of. Brothers and sisters, I want to encourage you that in the Lord, you can find contentment in the midst of all seasons. In this chapter, Paul is grateful for the concern of the Philippians, and because of this he rejoices greatly 'in the Lord'.
Your identity found in Jesus Christ has to mean something, whether in times of need or plenty. Salvation found in the gospel does not cure the pain of mental illness, but it can provide a source of contentment in the midst of the pain. Why? Because salvation is yours, God's love is yours and ultimately the day when there will be no more crying and no more pain will be yours. Everything you do, every day you live can be found 'in the Lord'.
So, let me leave you with an encouragement that Paul leaves the Philippians in 3:17-4:1:
Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!