Situations don”t cause emotions. Before you react to that statement, read Philippians 4:11, and then respond, not react. When I first heard that simple truth years ago, I admit it was difficult to understand. I’m not asking you to accept it, just think about it. Is it about a situation or a belief system?
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11, NAS).
Belief System or Situation?
I can hear your responses: “You stub your toe”… “You lose your job”… “You experience foreclosure”… “You have a car accident.” All of these cause emotions, right? Do they? Pain, yes. But do they cause your emotions? What are some emotions you might experience? Anger? Despair? Frustration? Panic?
Different people experience different emotions. Why? Check out their belief systems. While we may experience negative emotions at first, our belief system will determine how quickly we process the circumstance and how well we handle it.
The apostle Paul experienced the gamut of adverse circumstances: shipwreck, beatings, hunger, imprisonment. And yet he learned to be content no matter what happened to him. Did those circumstances cause contentment? Obviously not. Could it be that what we believe about a circumstance determines our emotions? If so, what was Paul’s belief about those circumstances?
What people ultimately believe may cause them to commit horrible crimes like mass killings. Or what people believe may cause them to love like Christ loved us. If we are convinced that problems and circumstances (or people) steal our happiness, we will “react” accordingly. Likewise if we believe in a God who is control of everything and will work out everything for our good, we will respond a certain way. If we believe that things make us happy, we may react negatively if those things are removed from us.
Examine Your Belief System
All of us are caught offguard at times, and we succumb temporarily to a gamut of emotions. Should negative ones persist, however, examine your belief system. Ask yourself, what do I really believe about this situation? Who’s in control here? What do I ultimately believe about the outcome? What does God’s Word say about this? And what does He want to teach me through it?
The Key to Contentment
The key to contentment is our belief system. Paul “learned” contentment because of who and what he believed.
You might enjoy another post I wrote dealing with contentment: 3 Ways to Increase Your Joy in Life.