In Any and Every Circumstance

The book of Philippians is a remarkable glimpse into the heart and mind of Paul, who was able to find contentment in any and every circumstance.  How did he do it?

1) Changing Seasons of Life

Paul addresses a reality that far too many poor (or at least unbiblical) theologies fail to acknowledge -- that our life experience is not homogenous.  Scripture never argues that our lives are to be lived "always up and never down."  Or if this way of thinking does address the "down" times blame is cast usually on you, as if your down times are because you did something wrong.  Or God is blamed: "Why is God doing this to me?"  Or worse yet, people draw the conclusion that God must not exist!  But healthy biblical theology like Paul's recognizes that there are ups and downs in life and both are normal in our broken world.  

2) The Promise of Facing, not Fixing

Paul doesn't claim to be able to fix his immediate problems, and doesn't seem to expect that of God, either.  What he does claim is that God is willing and able to equip us to face our problems.  After all, haven't most of the problems we've faced actually made us stronger or wiser?  And don't forget, Paul wasn't writing this letter from a lounge chair, surrounded by friends.  He was in prison!  Here was a man who know more hardship than most of us ever will!  And yet he was able to find contentment.  How?

3) Learning a Secret

Everyone loves a secret, right?  When most people are asked, "Do you want to know a secret?" reply, "No thanks."  So Paul shares his secret with his readers.  The key is in the "doing."  Paul doesn't say "I can sit on the couch and chill through Christ who strengthens me."  No, he says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  In other words: Christian contentment is an active satisfaction in life.  The Greek word means "full to satisfaction."  And in this case, you are also equipped to do something because your needs are met.  It means that the place where you are now is sufficient for the work God would have you do right now!  

4) Our Challenge in This Moment.  

Are we, like Paul, able to look around and ask, "God, what are you teaching me?"  Do we have the attitude of MacGyver, so we can be creative and make the most of what we've been given?  If we are, we'll need that last crucial piece -- the infilling of Christ's presence by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Never in the Bible do we see the suggestion that we're supposed to muster up the mental or physical strength to be our own heroes.  Our hero has already won the victory over life and death, and His promise is to be with us until the end of the age.  Will we let him?

Blessings,
MM
 


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