The sound started almost as a whimper but before I knew it, the howl was so loud that I had to clasp my hands over my ears. Carl looked at me straight in the eye, raised his head, and continued the piercing howl. What was Carl wanting from me? I knew he had been fed and that is belly was full. He had recently come back in from doing his business and his mouth was wet from water that he just drunk. So why was Carl so discontent?
What was it about this little dog that caused him to never be quite satisfied with his present situation? How could Bee, my female dog, be happy just laying on her bed while Carl was constantly seeking something that was just out of his reach?
If you think about it, Carl is not much different from the majority of the people living on this planet. Advertisements swarm the airways trying to convince us that if we would just buy the product, we would be happy. People roam from marriage to marriage or town to town expecting fulfillment that they lack in the here and now. Why do we think that if we could just have more that we would be satisfied?
Paul writes to the church in Philippi out of love and concern. He knew that these people struggled with being persecuted and he wanted them to look at their circumstances in a positive light. Knowing that Paul was writing this letter from a prison cell, the people had to be encouraged by his words.
Philippians 11b-12 states, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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.”
What had Paul learned that we could all take in and apply to our own lives? How could he actually be content locked in a prison that was nasty, cold, and dangerous? He tells us in Philippians 13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
If we can focus on Jesus, the author and creator of life, then the circumstances we are living in will lose their hold on us. By shifting our gaze off of the world and unto our eternal King, His spiritual lens will sharpen our perspective.
As for Carl, I am resolved to just love the little fella through his times of discontentment. And maybe he will feel the compassion that is necessary to enjoy the moment. But even if he doesn’t come around, I will strive to find the hidden source of contentment in his loud piercing howl.