The Hidden Secret

This week we conclude our series on Philippians, and this text has challenging implications.  What is the secret that Paul is revealing in the last portion of this letter, in this final "thanksgiving" to the Christ-followers in Philippi?  

The secret is how to be content in any situation.  

But this secret is hidden.  When all is going well, we say to ourselves, "I'm so blessed," or in the secular world, "I'm so lucky."  Or worse, "I have achieved so much."  But when times are tough, we are inclined to say "I've done something wrong," or "God is punishing me," or in the secular view, "How can there be a God when things are this bad?"  The truth of "good times and bad times" is that we tend to learn and mature much more in the bad times.  Health struggles, death of loved ones, divorce, estranged children, job failures, and more...  The apostle Paul knew about deep loss and suffering.  And he knew that what we learn in the loss is the hidden secret --- the GOLD.

Please visit UPPC.org/media to listen to Pastor Martha's personal story of loss.

When God's call remains central in your life, you will receive the promises of God.  The goal of marriage for example can stand in for all of life -- the goal is not to be happy, but to be holy.  As Psalm 34:19 reminds us, even "the righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time."  Those of us who are called to live as citizens of the Kingdom of God are not called to a life merely of happiness, but a life of holiness in all its aspects.  Moreover, that life which is being made holy by God's Spirit is forever purposeful as a beacon of light to a world living in the darkness of lies, especially the lies that accompany self-centered aggrandizement.

If marriage is a matter of mere self-fulfillment and ending loneliness, it will disappoint us.  If singleness is not seen as an opportunity to increase one's relationship to God, it will also be lonely.  But if marriage and singleness are both understood as opportunities to grow in holy relationship to God, we will not be disappointed!  

This is the secret of being content in all circumstances: keeping God at the core of every aspect of our lives.  This is the way for us to be able to celebrate, alongside Paul, that we "can do all things through Christ, who strengthens" us.  

Reflect:
- What circumstances in your life can you celebrate right now?
- What circumstances are causing you suffering?
- Consider how to reframe all your circumstances with God at the center of each of them.  Make time to explicitly give your circumstances to God, as you would give any offering, and boldly ask God to redeem each of them according to God's will.

Living God, you are good.
You offer refuge, rescue, and provision
In all circumstances.  
Please take from me the following, because I can't carry their weight alone:
______________________(offer your circumstances...)
Lord, your Word promises that you are close to the brokenhearted;
In your grace and mercy, please rescue me, redeem me,
And shape my days and nights according to your will,
So my life is forever filled with purpose and goodness,
In every circumstance.
In the name of my Savior, my Lord Jesus Christ,
Amen.
 

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