Philippians 4:12-13 states “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 things through Christ who gives me strength.”
These passages are a sobering reminder that life most definitely has its ups and downs. Sometimes the blessings seem to flow endlessly, and other times there seems to be no end to troubles.
I have lived a lot of places in my 18 years of marriage. Each place has offered varying experiences. As a family, we have journeyed through days of fear, and days of peace. Sometimes we would wonder how we would pay the next bill, and other times we would struggle to make sure we wisely used the “plenty”. We had times where we lived near extended family and encountered both the blessings and the hardships that come with togetherness. We have also had times where we lived far away from family and longed for the days when we would see them again. There have been days where emotional distress seemed it would rob our family of joy forever. Then there have been times when our home is overflowing with joy. I am sure many of you could look back over your past and see the same up and down pattern.
Recently, the Philippians passage was noted in my devotional book. For some reason it struck me on that particular day like it never had before. I had lived through want and plenty, just like Paul, but could I say I had learned to be content in both circumstances? The answer reverberated in my mind like a freight train…NO I HAVE NOT LEARNED TO BE CONTENT!! I immediately felt ashamed to be in the presence of the God who had given up everything for me. How could I expect more when he had been so generous already?! God has always provided for my family, yet I was living in a state of expecting the “plenty” all the time!
I would like to say that, after pleading forgiveness from our Father, I immediately learned the secret of being content, but that would be a lie. I still struggle with this “secret” ever y day. My family is still in, what most would say, an unstable position with jobs and finances. We still do not know how long we will wait for my husband to have a full-time job in his profession. We still live wondering when we might have to move next. Through all the uncertainty, one thing remains true, “we can do ALL things through CHRIST who strengthens us!” God has always provided when the need is most pressing. We are so thankful for the generous people He has allowed us to be surrounded by. His strength does carry us through things we never imagined being able to wade through. It is time to stop wondering when our lives will get better, or when things will finally be secure because we miss so much “living” that is going on now. We cannot live for later. We cannot live in anticipation of the “plenty”. We must instead listen as God whispers the secret of being content, in our ear…My child, “you can do all things through my Son who gives you strength.”