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Miranda Writes: The Secret to Contentment, Part 2




by Omar Miranda

A thankful heart is a contented heart

This week we’ll be looking at the second of three secrets to contentment. Last week we looked at the importance of focusing on having Christ—that is, on having a real and deeply intimate relationship with Him.

This week we’ll be discussing the importance of being thankful. I truly believe that a thankful heart is a contented heart. There is a strong connection between the amount of thankfulness we have in our lives and our level of contentment.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in my share of really difficult situations. Hey, maybe you’re in a situation like that right now. Maybe it’s a bad relationship or a recent breakup or a difficult class at school. Maybe your parents just got divorced or remarried. Maybe one of your parents, other family members, or close friends recently died. Or there could be any other number of difficult things that you are dealing with right now. Let’s look and see what the Bible has to say about those things and what nuggets of wisdom we can pull from it.

Let’s start in the oh-so-familiar book of Philippians. If you’ll recall, Paul was in jail. Not such a cool place. But that’s where he was, and here he’s writing to the Christians in the city of Philippi. Let’s take a look and see if he’s complaining. As we did last week, let’s start in chapter 4, but today let’s start with verse 4:
“Always be glad because of the Lord! I will say it again: Be glad. Always be gentle with others. The Lord will soon be here. Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel” (Philippians 4:4-7, CEV).1

Did you catch that? Paul was rotting in prison, and here he’s telling other people to be glad and rejoice! He’s telling them not to worry about anything, but to pray about everything. And how should they pray? Here’s the key: with thankful hearts. Paul is giving us a very important secret to the power of the Christian life, and it’s this: God’s promises are rock-solid, but many of them are dependent upon us doing something first, as is the case here. Don’t miss it.

Let’s take a look at verses 6 and 7. Verse 6 tells us not to do something and instead to do something else. By the way, this is the kind of Bible reading that I love. (Remember how I told you that I’m a knucklehead and God needs to hold my hand and connect the dots for me, so to speak?) Paul says that we shouldn’t worry about anything, but we should pray about everything. Look at verse 7: “Then . . . God will bless you with peace” that will be an unknown, crazy, out-of-this-world kind of peace! In fact, this peace will be so foreign to others that they won’t be able to comprehend why—in the midst of all the crazy you’re in the middle of—you’re so calm! Not only will God give you peace, but this peace “will control the way you think and feel.” In other words, it’ll control your thinking and your emotions. Whoa! By the way, when your friends and family see you going through stressful and difficult things and not cracking under the pressure, they’re going to want to know what’s up, so you’d better be prepared to answer their questions.

Well, now that we’ve discussed what to do to be contented, let’s briefly discuss the how. Again, a close observation of the text will tell us exactly what to do and how to do it. Look again at verse 6: “Pray about everything. . . . offer up your prayers and requests to God.” I like the way The Amplified Bible translates the word “petition” as “definite requests”2—in other words, we should be as specific as possible with God. The Bible paraphrase The Message puts verse 6 like this: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.”3 Here’s the point: the more worried we are about something, the more specific our prayer requests should be. God doesn’t just want to hear your praises or the things you’re happy about. God also longs to hear the things you’re worried and stressed about. That’s the cool thing about having a relationship with Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but when I have a close relationship with somebody, I don’t share just the good stuff that’s happening to me—I also share the bad. That’s the power of a close and intimate relationship with somebody. You can always just unload on God. Really! He’s waiting for you to. And when you do, I promise that you’ll feel better every single time. Why? Because once you do that, you unload your emotional backpack that’s been weighing you down and you leave it all at God’s feet. And guess what: He’s big enough to carry your stuff, and my stuff, and everybody’s stuff. What? You mean to tell me that you’ve never heard the children’s song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”? Well, I’m changing the lyrics to say “He’s got everybody’s worries in His hands.”

When you open up to God every day, consistently, as a habit, well, let me tell you that after a while you begin to feel lighter, freer, more joyful, more at peace, and more contented with your life and what’s happening to you and with you. Being thankful won’t make all your problems go away, but it will make Jesus—the problem solver and the perfect peace giver—come closer. So don’t wait another second. Are you stressed out or worried about something? Start talking to Jesus right now. Jesus is just a conversation away. He’s ready and willing to listen to the stuff that’s going on in your life—all of it.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

1 Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.
2 Bible texts credited to The Amplified Bible are from The Amplified Bible, Old Testament copyright © 1965,1987 by Zondervan Corporation. The Amplified New Testament copyright © 1958, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
3 Texts credited to The Message are from The Message.  Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.





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