Mikel took my daughter Christmas shopping for me when she was 3 years old and made sure to tell her it was a secret. But she immediately came in and told me, “I have a secret! We got you panths. And red sthlipperths too!” She didn’t quite get the concept of keeping a secret!
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned the secret of being content 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 4:11-13)
Mikel took my daughter Christmas shopping for me when she was little made sure to tell her it was a secret and not to tell mommy what they got. As soon as they got home, she immediately came in and told me, “I have a secret! We got you panths. And red sthlipperths too!” (She talked with a lisp…..it was adorable.) She didn’t quite get the concept of keeping a secret!
This wasn’t quite the kind of secret Paul was talking about…….a confidence you aren’t supposed to share with anyone. What he was saying here is, “I have learned the key to being content….ALWAYS.” I think secret is an excellent word though. How to live content, no matter what, is something that seems to elude us, especially in our day and age of instant gratification and our quest for things.
- In a state of peaceful happiness.
- In a state of satisfaction.
Wow! And Paul had learned that secret. How to be satisfied no matter what. “Whether well-fed or hungry. Whether living in plenty or in want.” I heard on the news that there were people at WalMart on Black Friday (which really was Thursday) punching each other over a T.V. and taking things from someone else’s buggy when they weren’t looking because that item was sold out. Hmmm…I think we need to learn this secret. How Paul? How do you live content NO MATTER WHAT?
First lets take a look at what Paul had to stay content through. It’s easy to be content when you have everything you want and when it’s all working in your favor. We see his trials in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. Of course it was because he didn’t get to go to Hawaii on vacation, he didn’t have a 70 inch flat screen T.V., and his car was 10 years old. Boy did he sure have a lot to work through. I can see how he may have had to fight discontentment! (Insert sarcasm here)
No….that wasn’t it at all. What he lived satisfied through was a bit more challenging. He was whipped more than he could count, stoned and left for dead, shipwrecked and floating around the ocean for a while (can anyone say shark bait?). He was in danger everywhere he went, and he went without food and shelter a lot. And that is only a part of what he endured.
Really Paul? You are telling me you were in a state of peaceful happiness being stoned? Yes, he was…..Do you know what he calls these? “These light afflictions….” Wow! What a perspective! He could have given up and had a meltdown. He could have gotten depressed and crawled under the covers for a while. But he didn’t. He had a secret.
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” His secret was…..it wasn’t him. He had some help. You don’t need a whole lot of physical strength to pick up a pillow. You do need massive physical strength to pick up a refrigerator. You would actually need some help.
This wasn’t easy for Paul, and it isn’t easy for us. We need some help. We need strength beyond what we have within ourselves. And that strength can only come from Him. From His presence. From living and walking so closely to Him that you can’t tell where you end and He starts.
There is too much to cover here for just one blog post (and this is a tad long as it is), so we will keep looking at this as the week goes on….at wells and rivers. At things that can add to that strength or chip away at contentment. I can tell you this…..I have lived discontent and I have lived content…..in peaceful happiness….fully satisfied. And satisfied is WAY better! And it’s within our reach.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. (Psalm 46:4)