Philippians 4:19, ‘…For I have learnt to be content in 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 4:19).
Let’s look at the context of this scripture – Paul was writing this letter to the church in Macedonia. Paul was not on his sun-lounger, drink in hand, sun on face, telling people to ‘be content’. He wrote this letter from prison. And it would not have been the first time he was imprisoned either.
‘…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 travelled 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’ (2 Corinthians 11).
After Paul had endured all this, still his words, ‘I have learnt to be content in whatever the circumstances’ suddenly takes on a different meaning. Paul is not calling us to be content while life is ‘good’ or even ‘okay’. He is calling us to be satisfied when life is a challenge. He is calling us to be content now in lockdown, in the middle of 2020!
This doesn’t mean we stop praying and believing for more, it simply means our circumstances do not need to determine our level of happiness and satisfaction. Our happenings do not need to have a hold on us because we have strength in something beyond our happenings. We have strength in Christ. It is in Christ that we find contentment. It is not in the absence of a virus, or the presence of people, or abundance of finances. It is in God that we find contentment in EVERY situation and season.
If your strength and contentment is found only when you are in control, know the future, are back at work, and are around people, then you are in for a scary ride, because life doesn’t always guarantee those things. But if you can find strength in an unchanging, good God, then you will find contentment in whatever the circumstances.
Did Paul just have this understanding and ability to be content land in his lap? No, the verse says, he LEARNT to be content. We won’t get this perfect, we will have days where we struggle, but let us have the posture of LEARNING to be content in whatever we are facing at the moment.
A daily devotion for a better way of living.