Celebrities and Our Contentment

August 1st 2014 No comments yet  

489253_65091885Celebrity culture has always fascinated me. I do not watch TMZ or pick up copies of People at the grocery store, but it is an interesting cultural phenomenon to observe from a distance. Folks like Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and Justin Bieber live in completely different stratospheres than the rest of us. It is incredible to watch how a person’s priorities shift when they have more money than the GDP of a small country and a constantly massaged ego. Instead of worrying about paying the mortgage, they need to make sure there are no brown M&Ms in their dressing rooms.

Unfortunately, many of us common folk mistake “different” for “superior” and understandably so. It is easy to see their big houses, unattainable wealth, freedom from real responsibilities and think, “Wouldn’t it be nice?”

We don’t realize that we are only seeing the highlights. As different as it may be, celebrities have to navigate life just like the rest of us. And just like the rest of us, they go through difficult times.

One quick look reveals a host of celebrities that have battled depression: Channing Tatum, Eva Longoria, Matthew Perry, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, and Owen Wilson are just a few. Not to mention those that deal with alcoholism, drug abuse, family crises, and going broke (yes, it happens). Pretty much anything that “normal people” face, celebrities do too. Being rich and famous doesn’t save you. It doesn’t bring peace and contentment.

Contentment does not come naturally to people, it’s a spiritual attribute you have to work hard to sustain. We see this truth in the letter Paul wrote to the Philippians.

Writing from prison, Paul thanks the Philippian church for sending him gifts. While he was grateful for their thoughtfulness, he sets a good example in Philippians 4:11-13 for all Christians on being content in any circumstance.

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

From this passage, we can extract two truths: (1) Contentment is not a product of your environment or anything this world can provide you and (2) being content is an act of recognizing your own weakness, having faith in the strength of God, and trusting His ability to execute His will through you.

That’s our fundamental struggle when we become jealous of other people’s lives: we don’t trust God. We don’t trust that His will is better than our own ambitions. We don’t trust that His timing is better than ours. We don’t trust that He loves us just as much as He loves everyone else.

Like I said earlier, we see the highlight reel of others’ lives. God doesn’t operate like an episode of SportsCenter. God works in every aspect of our lives, but His work is often most apparent in the lows. They are as much a part of life as our good experiences.

Hardships like financial troubles, medical difficulties, death of loved ones, marriage and family dysfunction, and depression affect every single one of us. Often these trials are tools God uses to teach us vital lessons. They become bedrocks of faith and life we wouldn’t have learned if we had experienced nothing but a parade of fortune. Using these lessons, we are better equipped to serve God and advance His kingdom.

For Paul, one of his trials was prison (which is not typically a pleasant place). However, the letters he wrote and the lessons he learned while imprisoned have become essential parts of our modern Bible. How many people since then have been touched and taught from writings penned in those horrific circumstances? I feel like an estimate in the billions isn’t terribly far off.

Did Paul know that when he was grinding through the daily life of being a prisoner? I would not think so, but he was content with his situation anyway. He recognized that God was working through him and had a plan for his life far more significant than Paul ever dreamed.

I hope the next time you feel tempted to compare yourself to the exciting life of a celebrity you will know that the Lord has a much deeper purpose for your life than a big house or “finding true love.” Even if your circumstances do not seem as fun or happy, remember that everyone experiences hard times. For Christians, they are vital to our spiritual development.

Here is my best key to contentment: Constantly remind yourself that God is using your time on earth for a significant and wonderful purpose for His kingdom. Whatever you are experiencing, whatever you feel is lacking in your life, God has a purpose for everything you experience.


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