In the last post we began looking at the tension that sometimes seems to exist between contentment and faith. We looked at the great call to contentment from the Apostle Paul:
I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
What we most clearly see here is not a man saying, “I cannot depend on God’s promises of deliverance and prosperity. So I just have to find a way to cope with life on my own.” No! That is far from Paul’s intention. We are not reading the words of a defeated and discouraged person who has learned to accept that his life is just going to suck.
These are amazing words of faith. But much more profound than simply using words of faith to manipulate the circumstances. This is more akin to witchcraft, by the way. Paul is experiencing profound “victory”, but perhaps not in the terms of popular culture and worldly wisdom. Paul has faced just about the worst that this life can deal a man, and yet he has found that Christ is more than enough to sustain him through the temporary trials he has faced. The last sentence in the verse shows how the thoughts Paul is sharing brought him to almost shout:
I can do all things through him who strengthens me!
Put in everyday words, Paul is saying that he has learned that Jesus is big enough to face any challenge and limitation in this life. No matter what you are going through, if you learn to trust in Christ right now, you will find there is miraculous grace to support you. Every circumstance is transformed by Christ’s presence. Christ may turn the captivity, release the resources, heal the disease, or change the hearts. Or He may not. But regardless of how the circumstance turns out, He will always give you the gift of Himself. And that’s always what you need the most!
“I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
He is what we most need, but is often NOT what we first turn to. Much of what we go through in life is actually God’s school to teach of how to find true contentment in what is ultimately and eternally valuable: Christ Himself! Most self-help teachers promise all sorts of freedom but do not point you to Christ. Thus they are only offering new cages for old ones. I will conclude this series in the next post!