BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12,13 NLT
When it comes to Paul, the idea of “I can do all things through Christ…..” means “I can do poor….I can do rich.” Paul’s well known and often used assertion declares the Lord’s strength not to do what I want, as much as to endure what life brings.
If someone were to ask Paul, “How to you keep going when you suffer so much?” or if they asked, “How do you keep you perspective when you have all your needs met?” His answer would be the same, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
In a world where contentment is focused on what you have, Paul turns that concept on its head and says it is more about “who has you.” We find more in scripture about Paul’s sufferings and trials than times of plenty and comfort. For example we read of Paul’s troubles and trials,
“I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-27 NLT)
Any one of these trials would be enough for anyone to question where God was and why he was allowing all this to happen. But Paul’s attitude was, “I can survive it, because in my need the Lord gives me strength.”
In time of suffering and trials our nature inclination is to question God, question our self, to believe something has to be wrong. When we have much and our needs are met, the temptation is to ignore God. To live on our own strength and trust in our own resources.
There are temptations that come with suffering and want, and there are temptations and trials that can come with having plenty and all of our needs met. Whatever our circumstance of life may be, we can keep our focus on the Lord; we can “acknowledge Him in all of our way.”
When Christ is our source of strength, we will find what we need in life to “keep our spiritual fervor” in plentiful supply. When we trust in our own ability and strength, we will find that we run “hot and cold” or we will be “up and down” based on our circumstances. We will go from being content to being filled with anxiety.
It is the strength that we find in Christ alone that gives us the contentment that can so illusive in life. Christ’s provision and presence frees us of worry, gives us peace and it keeps us focused.
Prayer for today…. Lord, in a world of anxiety, unrest and uncertainty thank You for the contentment that comes from You and the strength that You alone can provide.