This week, in our ongoing series of 13 Weeks to Family Financial Freedom After a Crisis, I was reminded of a lesson learned by watching my daughter and her young family as they made the hard transition into military life.

Soon after my son-in-law enlisted, he got stationed in Hawaii. Needless to say, they were elated. Undaunted at the prospect of leaving friends and family an ocean behind, they all flew off to paradise to live happily ever after.

It took several months, but something most unexpected happened. Gradually, they went from living in paradise to being stuck on an island.

What, you might ask, could you lack in a tropical paradise like Hawaii? After all, they’re living in a place most people can only dream of visiting. They had a good income and a nice home. Weekends were filled with family outings to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Every day, almost without fail, a rainbow appeared in the sky. What changed? What’s missing that was there before?

Simple contentment. For a brief time, they lost sight of that secret ingredient.

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13

Discontentment will take a wonderful life and turn it sour. That’s not to say that military life is a piece of cake. Neither is raising young children separated from extended family–it’s hard. So are job losses, sickness and all the other trials that cause economic distress. But contentment is even more vital in those times.

In fact, faith and contentment are the key ingredients to happiness. Sound too simplistic? Well, if being content in all circumstances were easy, everyone would be doing it.

However, it can be done.