A state of happiness and satisfaction.
When we think of contentment, we think of happiness, satisfaction, and serenity. This month, as we continue our study on the emotion of contentment, we find that contentment means different things to different people. What makes a person happy and/or satisfied? Is it money, kids, material things, or something completely intangible?
Scripture argues that we should be content when we have enough food to eat and enough clothing to wear.
After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. 1 Timothy 6:7-8 NLT
Selfish people, however, are never contented. We also cannot be contented if we harbor stress and mistrust. Discontentment separates us from Christ and prevents God from working in our hearts and souls.
There are many characters in Scripture that are wonderful examples of how we can emulate contentment as well as give us guidance on how to handle our daily struggles to maintain our own happiness. This week let’s talk about Joseph, son of Jacob and Rachel.
Joseph’s story is truly one that shows us what it means to be content despite our circumstances. Not everyone can find happiness in disparaging circumstances such as the ones he experienced.
As a child, Joseph was the most loved by his father, favored over all the other children. As he grew, Joseph would spend time with his father while the older brothers worked in the fields. Jacob continuously elevated Joseph over his brothers inviting jealousy, hatred, and distrust into their daily dynamics. The brothers grew so discontent about the relationship between Jacob and Joseph that they plotted to kill Joseph. Reuben, his eldest brother, concerned about the fallout Joseph’s death would cause, convinced his brothers to leave Joseph in an empty water tank instead because he planned to return and rescue him later. But before that could happen, a group of traders came through and Judah recommended they sell him as a slave. And for twenty pieces of silver, they did (Genesis 37).
At this point, we can only imagine Joseph’s feelings of confusion, loss, disappointment, and despair. Though Joseph was sold by his brothers, the Bible tells us God was with him. Joseph would find himself serving Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. While in service to Potiphar, Joseph would prosper and be placed in authority over Potiphar’s entire household. Unfortunately, Joseph encounters Potiphar’s wife, another person who is not satisfied with her own life and wants more. She would demand something that Joseph wasn’t willing to give her – his body. In anger, Potiphar’s wife would accuse Joseph of rape and cause him to be thrown into prison (Genesis 37, 39).
Me, personally, I’m not sure how content I would have been feeling if I were in Joseph’s shoes. Yet again, he excels and becomes the warden’s favorite in the king’s prison. Before long, Joseph is in charge again.
While in prison, Joseph would meet the Pharaoh’s chief cup bearer and the chief baker.
“Why do you look so worried today?” he asked them. And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.” “Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.” Genesis 40:7-8 NLT
Joseph would interpret the dreams of both and as predicted the chief baker was impaled by Pharaoh while the chief cup bearer was restored to his former position. Though Joseph asked the cup bearer to remember him for his good deed, he would be forgotten and left in prison (Genesis 40).
But Joseph’s story didn’t end there. Two years later, Pharaoh would have some troubling dreams that no one could interpret. And finally, Joseph was remembered by the cup bearer and brought before Pharaoh.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.” “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.” Genesis 41:15-16 NLT
Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams provides a solution to the impending destruction of Egypt from an upcoming seven-year famine. Again, Joseph finds favor and Pharaoh elevates Joseph to overseer of Egypt, being only second to Pharaoh himself.
At the age of thirty, Joseph began serving Pharaoh directly. He was given Pharaoh’s signet ring and a gold chain as well as dressed in fine fabrics. Joseph was provided a chariot and everywhere he went people were commanded to kneel. No one in the entire land of Egypt lifted a hand or foot without Joseph’s approval. Joseph was also given a wife and a new Egyptian name, Zaphen-paneah, which means God speaks and lives (Genesis 41).
Joseph’s story would come full circle when his brothers needing food to feed the family arrived in Egypt to purchase supplies. Not recognizing their brother, Joseph held the fate of his entire family in his hands. After some slight manipulation of his brothers, Joseph eventually reveals himself to his family, offers forgiveness, and is reunited with his father. With Pharaoh’s blessing, he moves them to Egypt and cares for them for all the days of his life (Genesis 42).
There must have been hundreds of things Joseph felt over the course of his lifetime, but not once during the chronicles of Joseph’s life does the word discontent seem to fit him.
Why? I believe Joseph chose to find contentment in the most trying of situations.
Like Joseph, we can either choose contentment or we can continue to wallow in feelings like unhappiness and distrust, never feeling satisfied with what we have. If we follow the example of Joseph, allowing God’s love and guidance to govern our every action, we can find and maintain a sense of contentment by:
*Trusting God in everything
*Taking control of our attitude
*Being content with what we have and where we are in life
*Serving and helping others
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank You for another chance to get it right. We thank You for another chance to choose contentment over discontentment. We thank You for allowing us to be content in Your arms. Only You can turn a horrible situation into a bed of roses. Only You can provide us with whatever it is that truly gives us our individual contentment. We look to You for our help and our salvation. Let nothing separate or distract us from Your plans for us. Honor and Glory to God Almighty. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
Written by Melony Henderson
Please note all scripture was taken from the NLT – New Living Translation
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.