Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 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. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:11-13 NASB
What is the hardest thing you ever had to learn? Algebra? A foreign language? Playing the piano or guitar? Cooking? Tennis? Just thinking of some of these experiences is draining. Hours upon hours of practicing, practicing, practicing. Why is it so difficult?
Now, while you are in that mindset – think of what Paul says in the quote above – I have LEARNED to be content. Learning is an active verb. He had to do some WORK on his attitude to become content – in whatever circumstances. Most of us can handle ‘content’ on good days, but Paul had a lot of bad days. Really bad days, where he was beaten, stoned, thrown in prison – with no source of food or clothing other than what friends would supply.
When was the last time you were hungry? Really hungry, with stomach growling and headache coming on? Were you content? Were you pleasant to be with? Really, what does Paul expect of us? He learned a secret, one powerful enough to get him through anything and everything with an attitude of contentment. Would you like the secret?
Well, it’s simple, but it is not easy. Paul says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” He tells us that Jesus Christ strengthens him when he, Paul, cannot do it himself. When the situations are the worst ones possible, Paul has learned (which means he has had many opportunities to fail as well as succeed) that if he relies on Jesus Christ to carry him through the valley, he can be content. And, he has learned that Jesus is ALWAYS with him in the valley.
How can we apply a lesson like that to our own lives? Can you think of a situation in which you would tend to become frustrated, defeated, or angry? What would contentment look like in that situation? Can you be content? Could you be content if you relied upon the help of the Lord? What would it take to get you to the point where you knew, absolutely knew – as Paul did – that you could do “all things through Christ, who strengthens you?”
The answer lies in your relationship with the Lord. You cannot trust the Lord with your heart and emotions if you do not know Him well, have a close relationship with Him. The more time you spend in getting to know Jesus Christ – through the Word of God, through prayer, through scripture memory – the easier it will be to be content. Why? Because you will learn that God is Sovereign. He controls what is allowed in your day, whether good or bad. He works all things out for the good of those who love Him. But, His sense of what is ‘good’ for you may not match your own. You must learn – to trust, to obey, and to be content.
Father God, I pray for all who would like to be content in the trials and temptations of daily life. I pray that you would strengthen them, as you did Paul, to the point where they do not see circumstances around them, but only see Jesus Christ. I pray that they would learn to be content.
Blessings, my friends-