It’s possible to enjoy a life filled with true contentment and freedom, one that is capable of withstanding and overcoming every storm that life may throw at us. Psalm 91:16 sets the target for us. God said of the person who will pursue Him: “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”
God’s promise of long life isn’t merely referring to living a long time. Multitudes of people become disappointed with life and, as the years pass, grow old and bitter. They may have lived a long time, but they have also been miserable and most likely have made those around them miserable as well. In contrast, God’s promise is not only for a long life, but one that is full, peaceful, and contented as well.
There is an art to living contented, one that the Apostle Paul discovered in his walk with God. Paul could be rich or poor, living in comfort or in less-than-comfortable conditions, yet through it all, he remained content. He learned an important truth: Contentment isn’t a product of our surroundings, it’s a product of our position in Christ and our perspective.
Paul’s strength to maintain the right perspective was the result of keeping God’s promises in view every time things got tough. Paul said it this way: “I have learned the secret. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me” (Philippians 4:12-13 TEV).
Contentment is a powerful force. On the other hand, so is discontentment, capable of robbing us of both energy and joy. So where will we live, in the tent of contentment or the tent of discontent? It’s our choice. True contentment is not the result of the conditions around us but of the condition within us, and the fruit of true contentment is joy, confidence, and strength.
The journey into lasting contentment begins right where we would think, in the presence of the Almighty God.
Psalm 91:1-2 describes it best:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.'”
Dwelling “in the secret place of the Most High” is our invitation to intimacy with God Himself. In Christ we now have private access to God’s presence. Prayer time should therefore become a joy-filled time of true communion, fellowship, and conversation with the Lord. In the process, the “secret place of the Most High” becomes our ongoing dialogue with Him.
The psalmist provides a powerful picture of what this process accomplishes. He states that we will “abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” We must live every moment in such a close, intimate place with God that His influence will be felt and will affect us in every situation.
The picture of abiding under God’s shadow makes me think of standing under an umbrella. The umbrella was first designed to protect a person from the sun. The Latin word for “shade” is umbra, the word from which the umbrella derived its name.
Think about it, we are carrying around our own personal umbrella of God’s influence! Everywhere we go, we have His “shade” of influence surrounding us, as well as all the situations we’re involved in. Staying under His influence will empower us to stand strong in the face of conflicts, negative reports, threats to our well-being, or any other move Satan may make against us.