Learning the secret of contentment

In the midst of the cost of living crisis, Anna Grummitt ponders some challenging words from the Apostle Paul.

The RBA kept interest rates steady this week, but Australians are still keenly feeling the cost-of-living pain.

Housing, electricity, petrol, food: prices have been soaring. This week on TikTok, videos parodying 2017 Coles ads – where celebrity chef Curtis Stone shares how to “feed your family of four for under $10” – have been going viral.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul famously wrote: “I have learnt the secret of being content in any and every situation.” But when a single bag of grated cheese now costs $10, and my rent (like so many others’) is about to go up by a significant amount, I want to object. Surely a mere attitude-change isn’t enough in the face of this systemic crisis.

It’s not – and so it’s right that the government is actively looking for solutions to ease the very real pressures people are facing. Many are struggling to afford the essentials, and recent surveys have revealed the crisis is having a marked impact on Australians’ mental health.

But that doesn’t make Paul’s words irrelevant. After all, he’s not speaking from a place of smug platitude. He experienced economic hardship, terrible physical suffering, and deep emotional pain – and still claimed to have contentment in all circumstances.

How did he do this? By being confident in his belief that amidst all the stresses of life, God had given him this promise: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

I certainly haven’t experienced the kinds of trials Paul did. In fact, unlike many Australians, the impacts of the current economic crisis on my life haven’t been dire. But contentment doesn’t come naturally to me. So as cost-of-living pressures continue to rise, and the government does whatever it’s going to do, I’m keen to learn that same hard-earned “secret” of Paul’s, in every situation.