Thanks for the Gifts
"I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (4:10-11) My Bible commentary explains the first part of the verse saying that the Philippians had concern, but that perhaps there was no messenger to send their gifts. But while Paul was waiting in the jail, day after day, possibly week after week, for something to come in the mail from the Philippians he didn't learn to be frustrated, angry, bitter, or have horrible thoughts about them, no, he, "...learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Paul completely astounds me. Life couldn't be any worse for Paul- he's in jail! But on top of that he wasn't receiving any care packages from those he gave his time and love to. Instead of being angry and bitter towards them he allowed God to teach him contentment. When I read passages like this I realize what an infant I am in Christ. I get inpatient so easily and when I feel 'forgotten,' like Paul, I go into self-pity, not contentment. I'm truly pathetic. If I would only trust the Lord for the outcome and surrender my thoughts to be true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable I would find contentment and peace.
"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 everything through him who gives me strength." (4:12-13) He's amazing. I too know what it is to be in need... I was homeless when I was twenty-one years old. I had nothing and no one. My family had disowned me. I also know what it is to have plenty...I have a beautiful home and all the food I could ask for. I have clothes on my back and a warm bed to sleep in every night. On top of that, I now have a family. I have not suffered as Paul has suffered, but I know the extremes of want and plenty and yet I have not learned contentment. Paul wrote, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation..." (4:12) Okay, the challenge for today (and for life) is being content in any and every situation. If we believe that God is in control, that God knows us when we sit and when we stand, that He cares for us and wants the best for us, than why can't be we content even when things go wrong? Won't He care for us? Won't He have a plan to set us free? Do we only trust Him when things are going well? Where is our faith when things take a turn for the worse? We, I, must learn to be content because I know my God.
"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (4:13) I don't think I ever connected this verse with the previous verses with contentment. I always read it alone. The difference is that I would think of big things like parenting, homeschooling my children, leading a VBS, being a speaker, author as, "I can do everything..." I never thought about the heart issues, like contentment as being able to do 'everything.' The things of the heart is what the Lord sees. I can do everything through Christ, like forgive all those who have hurt me, have patience with those who don't do things the way I'd like, love the unlovable, be content. I claim it now in Jesus' name that I can do EVERYTHING, big and small, heart issue or worldly, through Christ who gives me strength.
Jesus, I must be one of your silly children. You must look at me and say, "When will Ellie trust me in any and all circumstances?" Forgive me, Lord. You have carried me through a life time of hardships. I do know you. I do know that you love me and want the best for me. I do know that you are gentle and kind, and full of blessings. Help me today, and always, to be content no matter what comes my way because you are my peace. I love you with all my heart and want to grow into contentment. In Jesus' Name. Amen.