Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV) "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Paul truly had the right to make this statement. He was once a man of means, probably quite well off in his day and time. He was a scholar of the Old Testament and highly revered among his peers. He did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah that all the Jews were waiting for, and so, he was one of the main persecutors of those who did believe. However, one day, on his way to Damascus, God literally knocked him off his high horse. He was known then as Saul. This account can be found in Acts chapter 9.
It was during this experience that Saul who then afterward became known as Paul, heard the voice of God speak to him, revealing that Jesus was the true Messiah and he fell under conviction that he had been persecuting and killing followers of the very One he credited himself of seeking after. He made a complete turn around in his life and began to learn of Jesus, later preaching and teaching the saints and writing a large part of the New Testament.
During Paul's service to Jesus Christ, he experienced many perils and persecutions. He was beaten, imprisoned and left for dead countless times. Truly, he understood the depth of what he said to the Philippians, that he had learned a secret to be content in any and every situation, leaning on the strength of God for whatever that situation was.
Discontentment - a longing for something better than the present situation, prolonged unfulfilled desire or need.
Contentment - happiness with one's situation in life.
This secret of Paul's was to be content. He was living to fulfill the purpose of an Almighty God and King. Living in the assurance that God is pleased with us is the best path for happiness. Micah 6:8 (NIV) "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
The things and desires of this world only tug at us, screaming reasons why we should not be content. But there is a happiness that baffles the world, that contentment of which Paul speaks, strengthened by the Ruler and Giver of all things, both now and forever!