I married the love of my life and soon after our nuptials, I learned I was expecting our first baby. I was ecstatic—after the initial shock, of course! Unfortunately, the joy and excitement of becoming a new mom was soon shattered. At a routine ultrasound appointment, we discovered our baby’s heart wasn’t beating. I left that office feeling devastated, guilt-ridden, and incredibly sad.
A few months after the miscarriage, I was pregnant again. This time, the sudden joy of experiencing motherhood was quickly muted by the fear that I’d soon lose this baby too. I struggled to share my joy with others because I didn’t want to relive the pain of having to tell everyone the baby was gone. However, the joy of carrying my sweet baby could not be diminished for long, and with each passing week, I found myself growing more hopeful and elated that I was still pregnant. At eight gestational weeks, I experienced another “bump in the road” when I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), a rare condition (characterized by severe and persistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy) that occurs in an estimated 2% of pregnancies. Instead of planning cutesy gender reveals or sending my husband on late night food runs, I spent the first and second trimesters of pregnancy with my head stuffed in a bucket. What should’ve been a joyous and exciting time turned out to be one of the most trying and difficult times I’ve ever experienced.
By the fall, I’d officially crossed the threshold into my third trimester of pregnancy. Although it had been a struggle, I was happy I’d made it to that point. The anticipation of becoming a new mom and meeting my new baby girl was absolutely wonderful. But a few weeks later my doctor called and informed me that my daughter was showing signs of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) as a result of preeclampsia. I delivered my baby girl seven weeks early. She weighed only 3 lbs. 11 oz and remained in the NICU for 19 days.
This was a hard year of life. There were many days where I felt a bit dazed by all that was happening. But even on the most troubling days, I found myself praying earnestly to know and believe the secret of contentment.
The Secret to Contentment
When it comes to dry seasons, the Apostle Paul was certainly not exempt. In this beautifully written letter, Paul illustrates how we can live joyfully content in the midst of hardship. Concluding his letter Paul says,
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly because once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. Still, you did well by partnering with me in my hardship” (Phil. 4:10-14, CSB).
The Philippians had been very gracious and generous to Paul. And throughout this letter, Paul expresses his affection for the congregants of this particular church. Paul’s gratefulness is certainly to be noted, but his tone is more than mere appreciation. Paul’s words to the Philippians show us a man who is completely content in spite of very difficult circumstances.
Paul knew the secret. He knew the key to rejoicing in every circumstance. He knew how to maintain an attitude of praise even in the worst of situations. Paul knew how to escape the tight grips of anxiety and worry. Paul had learned contentment that comes only from Christ.
True contentment lies in being satisfied with Christ, in and of himself. It’s knowing you have a relationship with the giver of all things and even if he doesn’t give all things to you, it’s not because he’s incapable of doing so. In his devotional, New Morning Mercies, Paul David Tripp explains, “When you are satisfied with the Giver, because you have found in him the life you were looking for, you are freed from the ravenous quest for satisfaction that is the discouraging existence of so many people.” In Christ we have all we could ever want or need.
Last year, was one of the hardest years of my life, but by the grace of God, I realized that the joy my soul yearns for cannot be found in a perfect pregnancy, labor, or delivery. True contentment can only be found in Christ!
The Way of Contentment
We often attempt to find contentment by orchestrating a “perfect” world. We seek the best jobs, the most money, the highest praise, etc. But easy and ideal life circumstances don’t usually bring us contentment. Enduring hard and less-than-ideal circumstances, however, puts us in a position where we have to learn contentment. And we learn contentment in a right relationship with God when we trust his sovereign plan for our lives. Godly contentment is not built in comfort. It’s not built in a life absent of difficulties. It is built in Christ!
God is always present and strengthening us even in the midst of our struggles and he is sanctifying us for his glory. When our hearts are guarded by God, he will keep us in perfect peace, fulfill his promises, make provision for us, and keep us safe. Dear sisters, on your journey of contentment, I encourage you to rest in these simple, yet profound truths:
Think deeply about God’s word. Don’t respond to trying times with doubt and pessimism. Instead, rejoice in the glory of God! Meditate on the truths that are found all throughout God’s Word. And know that even during tough times, God has not abandoned you and is not punishing you by way of suffering. He is pruning you and sanctifying you for his glory! (Romans 5:3-5).
Keep your eyes on Jesus, not your circumstances. Find your joy in Christ alone. It’s okay to be excited about important life moments. However, we must always remember that this life is fleeting. There is not a pleasure in this world that can compare to the blessedness of knowing and having a right relationship with Christ. When you are tempted to despair about life’s circumstances, turn your attention to all that you have gained in Christ Jesus. In him, you have been saved and set free to worship and enjoy him forever.
Ask God for the strength to keep going. Trust that God will strengthen you and incline your heart to be delighted in him through all things. In Psalm 119 the psalmist exclaims,
“Incline my heart to your testimonies,
and not to selfish gain!
Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.”
Let this be our prayer as well! Ask God to help you keep your eyes centered on him always. when you feel weary and dismayed, pray that God will strengthen you and bring you life to navigate through hard moments of life!
Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher, writer/blogger, and podcast host. She loves God's Word and enjoys studying and teaching Scripture. Portia's commitment to discipling and training women is more than another project on her "to do" list. Her desire is to see women from all walks of life grow in godliness, grace, and in the knowledge of God. In 2016, Portia founded "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC) with the goal of helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit www.sheshallbecalled.com.
Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. Although she is a full-time working wife and mom, she is not too busy to enjoy a few of her favorite things. She enjoys cooking traditional southern dishes, getting lost in a good book, & writing.
Tripp, P. D. (2014). New morning mercies: A daily gospel devotional.
Ps. 46:1-3, Neh. 8:10, Is. 41:10, Ex. 15:2
Ps. 119: 36 - 37