TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 ESV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Back in January when life was normal (relatively speaking), I wrote about my word of the year—Contentment. You want proof that God has a sense of humor? There it is. If ever there was a year to study and learn about contentment, 2020 is the one. I woke up thinking it might be time for a slightly-past-mid-year update…
While this is my personal project, most of us have had to adapt so much that a lesson in contentment seems to be almost universal. For instance, we’ve been faced with:
- The unknown. This is a given all the time, but this whole COVID thing has magnified it.
- Canceled plans
- No in-person church
- Job insecurity
- Isolation from family and friends
- An economic shutdown
- Confusing and contradictory news
- To mask or not to mask (that is the question—for which everyone has an opinion)
- Toilet paper and meat shortages
All of this has put us to the challenge… do we learn to be content in all circumstances? Or do we stay angry and frustrated in perpetual discontentment?
I’ve thought a lot about the Apostle Paul this year and specifically his words, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:11-12).
And then, he said the words that resonate so loudly for many: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
2020 has given us new opportunities to lean on Jesus Christ, and it’s been a year that proves we are not as self-reliant as we think we are. Pandemic or not… we need to draw our strength from Jesus. And if you re-read Paul’s words, he said that it’s in EVERY circumstance… let’s emphasize his words a bit more…
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in WHATEVER situation I am to BE content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In ANY and EVERY circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need.”
The secret is Jesus.
We’re not going to find contentment in anything else. Or anyone else. Anything(one) else is a cheap substitute that will eventually leave us weak, cold, and disenchanted.
You may think, “Well, Paul didn’t face a pandemic!” No. But he endured five lashings; he was beaten with rods on three occasions; he was stoned; shipwrecked; he faced danger from his travels, on rivers, from robbers and other people, the elements, hunger, cold, and exposure (2 Corinthians 11:24-27). Paul faced all of this willingly and counted it as a blessing for the privilege to share the Gospel of Jesus with the world… he suffered so he could tell others about Jesus who also didn’t go through a pandemic, but suffered a horrific beating and agonizing crucifixion he did not deserve—just to pay the price for our sins.
It puts our griping about being at home in perspective, doesn’t it?
And when we go to Paul’s letter to Timothy, we’re reminded, “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world” (1 Timothy 6:7).
These words also add perspective. It’s not ours. We came with nothing, and we won’t leave with anything we accumulate. It’s stuff. And when you define all of this for what it really is — stuff — it makes it easier to realize that none of it really matters. We just need Jesus.
Have you found contentment in your circumstances? Have you turned to Jesus for the strength you need to endure?
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for the promise to carry our burdens (Matthew 11:28-30). Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a spirit of contentment. Ask Him to help you lean on Jesus for your strength. Ask Him to help you adopt the words of Paul for your own so that you, too, can learn to be content in all circumstances.
SHARING ••• My Grace-Full Life is written by Denise Heidel. You are welcome to share anything I write, but please credit my writing and graphics accordingly. Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. Subscribe through my website to have My Grace-Full Life delivered to your email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the ESV translation.