I have some good news for you: God’s goal is not to make sure you’re happy. No matter how hard it is for you to believe this, it’s time to do so.
Life is not about your being comfortable and happy and successful and rich and pain-free. Rather, life is about becoming the person God has called you to be. We will rarely hear that message in much of our consumer-driven Christianity today. All the more reason for me to say it again: Life is not about you! So then...what is it about?
It’s about God.
How can I say that with assurance? Because of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9–10:
Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
That’s it! As Paul sought to fulfil the Great Commission in Europe, he faced innumerable trials. He mentioned only a few. Nevertheless, Paul understood what life is about...and he went with it for the rest of his days. We must do the same.
When you and I boast of our strengths, we get the credit...and we keep going under our own head of steam. Bad plan. But when we boast in what Christ is doing in the midst of our brokenness, inabilities, and inadequacies, then He comes to the front where He belongs. His strength comes to our rescue. He is honoured. It’s all about Him.
You see, the very things we dread and run from in our lives are precisely what brought contentment to Paul. Don’t miss that as you read through Paul’s list:
- I am content when I lose.
- I am content when I am weak.
- I am content with insults.
- I am content when I am slandered.
- I am content in distresses.
- I am content with persecutions.
- I am content with difficulties and pressures that are so tight I can hardly turn around.
These are contexts of contentment? Seems impossible! Paul tells us how he did it: because “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Read that again. Knowing this truth brought the apostle to his knees, ablaze with the flaming oracles of heaven. Paul understood that it wasn’t all about him. It was about God. What a way to live your life! Content in everything...knowing that divine strength comes at the time when human weakness is evident.
Quite remarkably, we never read where Paul said to his Roman guard, while he was in prison: “I need you to do me a favour. Next time you happen to be near one of the emperor’s assistants, urge him to get me out of this dump. I shouldn’t be here in the first place. I’ve been here for one year, seven months, four days, five hours, and nine minutes, and that’s long enough.” Paul’s attitude of unselfish humility prevented him from keeping meticulous records of the wrongs done to him in Rome, or anywhere else for that matter. He was in prison by divine appointment. Paul understood that God had prepared his situation beforehand, and the apostle willingly submitted to his situation. How could he? It was all about God.
Do my words find you today in a place you’d rather not be? If you want to learn Paul’s secret of genuine contentment, the perfect place to begin is by developing an attitude of unselfish humility. Start with your family or friends. Model it before your employees or clients. You won’t believe the impact that sort of selfless mental attitude will have on others—and on yourself.
Let me add that this sort of humility doesn’t mean we walk around looking like the poster child for the book of Lamentations. On the contrary, Paul exhorts believers to have an attitude of joyful acceptance. That’s right—joyful. Paul minced no words about how believers should act:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:14–15)
Paul sought an attitude of joyful acceptance, free of petty disputes, bickering, and whining—he pled for authentic joy. I urge you to live this way...and the results will amaze you.
After all, it’s not about you. It’s about God.