July 1, 2022
“I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. I have learned the secret of being content – whether in abundance or in need.”
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“I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. I have learned the secret of being content – whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. Still, you did well by sharing with me in my hardship.” Philippians 4:12-14
Can you imagine yourself in a state of contentment? What would make you happy?
For me, I’m at a beach house. I have no mortgage, no debt. I have enough money to cover any reasonable whim. I’m thin, tan, and there’s a south swell coming in. Let’s go surfing!
It’s easy to be content when we’re living our dreams.
What if, instead, we were forced to endure a nightmare? What if, while lying on my dream beach, a tsunami arose and swept away the coastline. I survived but lost the use of my legs; I lost my family and everything else. Now I’m alone, bankrupt, and physically incapacitated.
Is it possible to contently praise the Lord when our conditions are displeasing? Paul says, “Yes!”
It is a great mystery, but true contentment is not about maintaining a positive environment. It is also more than maintaining a positive attitude. Contentment, or “joy,” is a gift from the Lord that transcends your particular situation and attaches itself to God’s never-changing character and promises.
Paul says he “learned it.” He endured both abundance & hardships, and God proved faithful through both! God was faithful to deliver Paul from prison, and He was faithful when Paul was thrown into prison. God is always faithful. And there is peace in knowing that.
Here is another thing we know: Whenever Paul suffered, people believed in Jesus! They would ask, “Why else would Paul volunteer to suffer unless he KNEW Jesus was Messiah?” Paul’s message is different from the “prosperity” gospel of today. Paul’s approach sounds more like a “disparity” gospel! Yet, Paul was an effective evangelist, nonetheless.
If Paul learned contentment by experiencing God’s faithfulness, he perpetuated contentment by continuing to heed God’s call. The secret to contentment is to trust and obey the Lord through all circumstances. We must learn to trust He will never leave or forsake us, even if following Him leads us through hard times or even martyrdom.
It is good to entrust Jesus with our “souls.” But how well do we trust Him with our lives?