The leader of our Men's Bible study posed a question to the group, "When are you the happiest in life?" One of the guys quickly responded with a grin, "Whenever the Pittsburgh Steelers win!"
When the laughter settled, the leader again inquired, "How long does it last?"
"Usually a week, until they play again...Unless of course they win the Super Bowl."
We all began to laugh again and shake our heads. We could relate to these sentiments. When times are good, it's easy to be happy. When our hometown football team wins a game, or when our favorite meal is served, or when the work week is over and the weekend begins, it's easy to feel happy.
Unfortunately, happiness that is based on how well things are going can only last as long as our circumstances deem favorable. Once things start turning for the worse, our happiness heads south. It's Yo-Yo happiness.
I believe there is a very simple key to sustainable happiness that is often overlooked. In fact, it's found in a single word - contentment. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word contented as "feeling or showing satisfaction with one's possessions, status, or situation".
How many people do you know who are truly satisfied (content) with their current possessions, status or situation? Not many, I presume. Yet without contentment, there can be no true happiness. I like the way the Apostle Paul put it,
"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." (Philippians 4:11-13)
The secret to finding contentment is realizing that although your circumstances will always change, God will not. Whether times are good or bad, you can always rely on God's steadfastness in your life. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)
You may be facing tough times economically. You may have problems with your health. You may have relationship strains that can't be fixed overnight. All of these circumstances can leave us feeling unhappy and longing for better days. But if you don't CHOOSE to be content today, then you've resigned to unhappiness until all of your circumstances are favorable. And who knows when that will be?
When we choose contentment, we are not accepting an unfulfilled life or small dreams. We are simply saying, "By God's strength and sufficient grace, I will be satisfied in the place I am today." Don't stop hoping, praying and working for a better future, just don't forget that God wants you to enjoy Him on the way.
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:6-10