Cultivating Contentment

It’s very difficult to be thankful and unhappy at the same time.

I would venture to say that it’s impossible.

It stands to reason that, if you’re unhappy, practicing thankfulness would go a long way to solving that problem.

Across the board, research has long proven that happy people are thankful people. One such study, conducted by Dr. Robert Emmons out of UC-Davis, suggested that those who practiced gratitude were a full 25% happier than those who didn’t.

And it doesn’t stop there…Thankfulness has two life-transforming implications for our present reality.

Thankfulness causes us to experience contentment in the present and helps alleviate fears about the future.

I want you to try this exercise today. I want you to take a minute and “clear the deck,” close your eyes, and think of three things that you are thankful for right now. Talk with God about why you are so thankful for each of those things.

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When we thank God for His blessings, we cultivate a posture of surrender in our own hearts. Thankfulness helps us surrender to exactly what God is doing at the moment…which is just another way of saying “thankfulness leads us into contentment.”

Really, thankfulness and contentment go hand-in-hand, because contentment evidences a simple, childlike faith in who God is and what He is doing. When we thank God for what He’s doing in our lives, we train ourselves to trust Him and His plans for our lives.

But, the Apostle Paul wrote about being content in this way:

“Not that I speak because of lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. I know how to be humbled, and I also know how to abound. In everything and in all things, I have learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in need. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13).

Whether in plenty or in want, Paul had learned how to be content. Why?

Because he knew that he could do all things through Christ who strengthened him! This is why Paul leaned into a surrendered way of living. Because he knew and trusted Jesus, he knew that the Lord was in control and had strengthened him by the Spirit.

And, this totally transforms how we live in the present, doesn’t it?

No longer do we need to daydream about the future…because we’ve learned to thank God and satisfy ourselves with the work He’s doing right now. And not only that, but we move from being worried about the future and what is waiting around the corner, and we become excited about the minute-by-minute unfolding of God’s perfect plan for our lives.

Thankfulness helps us trust God with what’s to come.

Why? Because thankfulness is a discipline that allows us to take stock of how faithful God is being to us in our present reality.

When we live in light of God’s faithfulness, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can trust Him with our future too. When you cultivate thankfulness for today and trust God with what’s coming next, you will find yourself truly satisfied in ways that you never dreamed!

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