Several years ago I had the opportunity to work with a food ministry for immigrants. Each Friday before everyone would come to get their groceries, all of the volunteers would gather together for a time of preparing the bags. Each grocery bag contained a fruit, vegetable, grain, and other item. Though there were not enough supplies to make all of the bags exactly equal, we tried our best to make each bag similar to the others. For example, if there were not enough bags of rice, we added another box of pasta. If we ran out of cereal, we added another similar item. Once we finished preparing all of the grocery bags, we gathered together to pray. Hundreds of patient immigrants then entered the church, fifteen at a time, to receive their bag.
My role in the ministry was to be the greeter. When people entered, I then gave them information about the church, asked if there were any questions, and then asked if they wanted prayer or a Bible. They then received their bags and exited out of the church. One particular Friday, I noticed that people kept looking in the grocery bags of others. They looked in their bags, skimmed its contents, and then looked in the bags of their neighbors. The replies became, “She got rice. I didn’t get rice. Can I have rice?” or “I don’t want apples. Can I have oranges?” After working all afternoon and hearing the same questions, I became very frustrated. I thought, “Why can’t you be thankful for what you have?” As soon as that thought entered my mind, it was like the Holy Spirit said, “Kathy, why can’t you be thankful for what you have?”
So often, instead of being thankful for the blessings that the Lord has given me, I look to the “bags” of others. I wonder, “Lord why can’t I have ____________ like she does?” Why does _______________ happen to him or her and not me?” The Lord responds ever patiently, “Why can’t you be thankful for what you have?” Lack of contentment often comes in the form of “if only…” If only I had _________________, then I would be happy. Paul notes in Philippians that contentment is not something that is instantaneous— it is a process. “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13, ESV, emphasis mine). Paul learned that the source of contentment was Christ—not his circumstances. Christ is also our Source. The next time that we are tempted to look at others or say Lord, if only I had _______________, we should realize that the source of our ultimate contentment is also found in Christ.
Kathy King grew up in Oxford, Mississippi. After college, she served as a Journeyman in Madrid, Spain. Currently, Kathy is a student at Southeastern pursing her M. DIV in Christian Ministries and M.A. in Biblical Counseling. She is a counseling intern for the Women’s Life Office and a member of the Summit Church. Eventually, Kathy would like to do Member Care for missionaries on the field. Her hobbies include running, photography, writing, and being outside.