… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)
Paul teaches us about the most important fact of life from the confinement of his prison cell in Rome. Christ is near. He sees us, he knows what we need to live with gratitude. Our journey in life is not always easy or comfortable. Paul can tell us about difficult times in his life. There were times he experienced need, pressing through dire poverty to reach the nations for Christ. He also had times of abundance – having plenty of all he needed. The secret in life is to trust Christ. That is the secret of being content in any and every situation. Christ is near. He cares for us. When we are content, we are grateful. Our focus is not on our own needs but on following Christ.
I think we all have experienced this in some form in our lives. There are difficult times in every life. There are times of want, times of hunger. In these times, we learn to trust the Lord, even for our daily bread. And there are times of abundance, times of plenty, in which we have more than enough, to share with others and to express even more gratitude in prayer.
We all are busy with the journey of our lives. Sometimes we worry about our lives and about our future. In this chapter of Philippians, Paul taught that God is always near. When we grow in faith, we start to experience his presence even more. Anxiety starts to wane. When we look back, we realise: I am alive today! God has brought me thus far. And he will be trustworthy every step of the way, he will lead me home. Paul discovered this – contentment in all situations – because God is with us. He gives this powerful statement in verse 13: I can do all this, I can cope with anything life throws at me through him that gives me strength. The question is never whether I will be able to endure until the end. The promise is: He will carry me through! He gives me the strength to finish the race of life, and finish it well.
As we saw at the very beginning of Philippians – he who has started a good work in our lives will continue to do so and will finish it when Christ returns. We are safe in his hands for always.
Prayer: Lord, I confess that I can be caught up in anxiety about my life and my future. I sometimes wonder if the small contribution my life makes to your kingdom has any worth at all. Thank you that you are near. Thank you for your peace guarding my heart and mind. Thank you that I will endure, and finish the race of life well, through your strength. Help me, always to remember who I am because of who you are. Amen
Dear Reader, thank you for joining me on this journey through Philippians during October. I pray over you the words of Philippians 4:23: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will be with your spirit. Amen.”