Learning A Secret

The Joy of a Secret

Do you have a secret about how to do something well? Some little-known way to make a meal or a moment really special for other people? Something that is a winner every time? Not a bad secret. Not luscious gossip about another person. Not a way to get rid of people you don’t like. A delightful secret to getting a job done.

Recently I became aware of a secret to making grilled cheese ~ mayonnaise!!! Spreading a layer of mayo on the bread before grilling the sandwich makes it grill evenly, look delicious, and taste like you used butter. 🙂 I was overjoyed to learn this secret, I love knowing this secret, and well, ok, I guess I love passing it along … so it can hardly be called a “secret” anymore.

Learning A Secret Cure

But there is another huge secret that I would love to whisper in your ear. This secret is much more important than grilled cheese. This secret has to do with fighting depression and angst. It is a key to processing life, the downs, dark shadows and despair that come our way.

This secret did not originate with me, but instead with the One who created us and knows us better than we know ourselves. The Apostle Paul had a life and ministry that was hard on his body – hiking mountain passes, coping with his ship going down, and getting attacked by mobs. Sometimes, he received a financial gift; at other times he had to pay his own way. He wrote this from prison:

“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.

Philippians 4:11-13

Learning Paul’s Secret

Here is Paul’s secret: I have learned to be content.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “content” as an adjective meaning “in a state of peaceful happiness.” Someone has said that “contentment is wanting what you have, not having what you want.”

Whether I am going through a very discouraging time or whether I am riding high on the wind of accomplishment and joy, I can choose to be content and be th(i)nkful. That seems almost impossible. How can I be content, in a state of peaceful happiness, when I feel my life is falling apart? Feels bizarre.

The secret key is how you process the happenings in your life. What are you thinking about? Whose perspective are you choosing?

Fight for the Secret Key

Importantly, Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13 that he has learned the secret of being content. Learning typically means chosen and fought for. When you learn another language, you must choose to do so and then persistently fight to follow through. Paul learned contentment. I wonder how many times he failed while trying to learn.

Can I also learn this secret? Can I craft brain neural pathways of contentment? Of course I can. God gives the “how-to” in the last verse. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Christ wants me to choose contentment, to fight for contentment, and when I fail, to choose contentment again. Call out to Him for His strength in order to be content with what He has allowed in my life.

The Outside and Inside

But contentment is about my view of things outside of me, my circumstances. My only discontentment should be about what inside of me is unlike Him. I must never be content with the extent of my fallenness, my fleshliness, or my rebel sighs against my circumstances and their Author.

You see, in God’s mind, our externals are about our internals. Our circumstances are meant to test and change our hearts and the hearts of those watching us. He does not waste pain or difficulty. God has designed my challenges and my successes, my wealth and my poverty, my health and my disabilities. He is behind everything in my life. In Isaiah 45:7, our God makes it very plain:

“I form light and create darkness;
I make well-being and create calamity;
I am the LORD, who does all these things.”

Isaiah 45:7

Part of the choosing and fighting for contentment is choosing to search for things for which you are thankful. Th(i)nkfulness produces contentment. I can be thankful for what is going well and talk about the “glass half full.” I can be thankful that I don’t need whatever seems to be lacking because God has promised to meet all of my needs.

I can be thankful for pain and loss and sorrow because I am learning, I am dying to my own will, I am becoming deep and not shallow, I am praying more than ever, I am more sympathetic to others suffering in the same way, I am receiving His grace to overcome, I have His presence and attention through this, I may get extra gospel opportunities, I have a hope that this too will pass, and if I die, it will be the best thing that ever happened to me.

Summing up, the secret to fighting depression and angst is to repeatedly express my thankfulness to the Author of my circumstances, and then to fight my way through many, many lessons, with His strength, to learn contentment. Now, go and share your secret with somebody else.

“Be content with what you have for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'” Hebrews 13:5

7 thoughts on “Learning A Secret

  1. Excellent article! I talk with so many who name Christ’s name who are chronically depressed and upset. Th(i)nkfulness is an excellent way of looking outside ourselves and looking vertically to the One who has given us everything we have including the breath in our lungs! Thank you for this article, Karin.

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  2. I was listening to this old Paul Overstreet song yesterday, then I read your post on contentment. I felt they kinda went together. Thanks so much for the reminder. Here’s the lyrics.

    Richest Man on Earth Song by Paul Overstreet OverviewLyricsListenPeople also search for Main Results Well, I’ve heard tell of millionaires and billionaires and such Who gathered all their treasures and still did not have enough If money could buy peace of mind I guess they’d have it all But all the money in the world won’t hold you when you fall. We’ve got a roof over our heads And the kids have all been fed And the woman I love most lies close beside me in our bed Lord, give me the eyes to see exactly what it’s worth And I will be the richest man on earth. Lord, when I wished I had the things that you gave someone else I pray that you’ll forgive me for just thinkin’ of myself I haven’t been as thankful as I know I ought to be I should be more than satisfied with all you’ve given me. We’ve got a roof over our heads And the kids have all been fed And the woman I love most lies close beside me in our bed Lord, give me the eyes to see exactly what it’s worth And I will be the richest man on earth. One thing is for certain it don’t matter when you die If you had a million or if you just got by. We’ve got a roof over our heads And the kids have all been fed And the woman I love most lies close beside me in our bed Lord, give me the eyes to see exactly what it’s worth And I will be the richest man on earth. Yes, I will be the richest man on earth… Source: Musixmatch Songwriters: Paul Overstreet / Don Schlitz Richest Man on Earth lyrics © Scarlet Moon Music Inc., Scarlet Moon Music Inc

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  3. Pingback: Learning A Secret - Rooted Thinking : Rooted Thinking

  4. Karin your Thinkful blogs come and live where we do. I think they are valuable because it is a guide to live a life pleasing to the Lord. Sometimes I have this beautiful time with the Lord and 5 minutes later I’m this smoldering monster because something has tested my patience, a stubborn vaccum cleaner, a bigger bill to pay that I forgot about, and the shower hose that tore up in the bathroom shooting water all over the place all in one day. I mean really! So I’m going to get a notebook and Bible and go through all your Thinkful blogs and get some help. 😁

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