Remember when I said suffering is having what you don’t want and wanting what you don’t have? Subtract your wants and you’ll have contentment.
It’s a way of equalizing your desires and circumstances. The apostle Paul was an expert at this arithmetic. For example, he was glad his Philippian friends were sending him gifts. “I rejoice greatly” he says, but quickly adds, “I am not saying this because I am in need…”
Not in need? In a jail? “I am amply supplied” he assures his friends (Philippians 4:18). Good grief, Paul, why then are you rejoicing greatly? “I am not looking for a gift” he explains, “but I am looking for what may be credited to your account” (v. 17). Paul subtracted his desires and, in so doing, increased his joy–his joy over supplying the needs of others.
Paul wasn’t living in denial in that dank dungeon; he simply adjusted his longings in light of Christ’s sufficiency. Christ was more than enough whether Paul was “well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” (Philippians 4:12).
The world is clueless to this sort of math.
(Joni Eareckson Tada and Steve Estes, When God Weeps, p. 173)