Have you ever noticed how we're constantly looking toward the next stage of life? It seems to start about fifth or sixth grade, because it's then when we start to notice middle school. Of course, as soon as we hit middle school, we're itching for that first year in high school. Then we can't wait to get our driver's license, at which point we almost immediately set our sights on turning 18, and on it goes. In fact, it never really stops. The pattern continues into adulthood.
It's good to anticipate and think about the future, but often this thinking robs us of the present. We are eager for what we think will be a better next stage, and we grow impatient and ungrateful for our current stage. This is not the perspective God asks of us.
The passages below touch on the idea of being grateful for our current life stage. The word used for this: contentment. As you read these verses, note what each passage teaches about contentment or being content.
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for 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" (Phil. 4:11-13).
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it" (1 Tim. 6:6)
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'" (Heb. 11:5).
The So What
Be honest with yourself. What next stages of life are you looking forward to, and why? Take a minute to jot down your thoughts.
How has your anticipation of any next stage kept you from being content with your current circumstances of life? Has it made you impatient? Ungrateful? Resentful? Jealous of those already in the stage you're anticipating?
God obviously honors contentment. What can you do to raise contentment to the level of a spiritual discipline such as fasting or meditation?
According to Hebrews 11:5, what are we displaying trust in when we are content with what we have?
Putting into Practice
What can you adjust in your thinking and attitudes to better embrace your current life circumstances or in the words of Philippians 4, "to be content whatever the circumstances"? Here's an idea: Create a title for yourself that describes your current life situation in light of the life stage you are anticipating. Here are a couple examples:
• Middle schooler looking forward to high school
• 15-year-old eagerly waiting for driver's license
Next, think of things you can do or ways you can keep yourself grateful for your current life situation. We'll use "15-year-old eagerly waiting for driver's license" as an example.
1. Celebrate that it's your last year of not driving; enjoy sleeping while other people drive you around; appreciate not having to buy gas.
2. Keep a scrapbook or e-doc of news headlines during this year; label it: "Things that Happened when I was 15."
3. Place reminders around your room that you're only 15 once. After your next round of 15 years, you'll be 30.