It seems like every day I hear of another family suffering from the loss or injury of a loved one or the diagnosis of a medical condition – life-changing or life-ending. When I hear of a parent watching their child suffer or a marriage falling apart, I hurt for them and wonder how I could bear it if I were in their situation. I hear of people who have been out of work for more than a year and I hurt for them. How will they provide for their families? Will their faith weaken or strengthen?
Paul’s wonderful words in the book of Philippians are a source of encouragement. I can be content in any situation or circumstance. How? Through Him who gives me strength and by the power of my God who meets all my needs by the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus…
How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 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 all things through Christ, who gives me strength…
At the moment, I have all I need – and more! I am generously supplied…And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen. – Philippians 4:4-7, 10-13, 18-20
It seems to me that there is a lot of wasted energy focusing on things that I can’t change instead of giving time and attention to the things that, by His grace, I can change. I need to learn how to be content in any situation. This reminds me of the “Serenity Prayer”.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr
The key is to live in TODAY…not to get worked up about what may or may not happen TOMORROW, and not anchoring my emotions with regrets regarding what happened YESTERDAY, last week, last year or ten years ago.
Here are a few things we cannot change, so they are not worth fretting over or worrying about:
– The weather.
– The past. Mistakes, sin and stupidity are just that…the past. With His help we can repent, ask for forgiveness and move on, leaving the past behind and focusing on the HOPE God has for our future.
– Other people’s attitudes and actions. I can only choose mine.
– Not having enough time. We are never going to get more time, so let’s stop wishing we had more. We have all the time we need to do what God is asking us to do. Time is never the issue, priorities and values are.
– Harmful words spoken to us. Let them go and move on. Use the past as a guide post, not a hitching post.
– Family of origin. Use family as an explanation, not an excuse. Jesus can transform us into who He wants us to be no matter the influence of our childhood.
Here are a few things we can and should change…by His grace and with His help:
– My prayer life. I can choose my priorities and spend more time in prayer – praising God, confessing to Him, praying for others and yielding control to Him.
– My attitude, my perspective, my response to other people’s actions and, most of all, my words!
– My habits – getting rid of the bad habits and building new good habits.
– My current priorities and values. What is important and what is not?
– My weekly commitments. Am I overloaded and overwhelmed? What do I need to stop doing or do less frequently?
God, please give me the strength I need to be content in any and every situation. Fill my heart with the joy and strength needed to rejoice in you ALWAYS. Thank you for this letter to the Philippians and how it speaks into my life today.