Sunday, January 9, 2011

Today, I Am Content


We recently had some good friends over for dinner who are going through a tough time financially, and we, in turn, were able to share with them the financial roller coaster that we've been on since being married.  After our story-telling was finished they asked us, "So how did you do it?  How did you keep your head up and keep your stress down in the middle of it all?"

A good question.  And we have in no way been experts in living the answer.  But there is one thing, or one Person, who can help us.

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be 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 everything through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:11-13
That's Paul writing to the Philippians, exclaiming that he know the secret to always being content!  That is crazy!  So often we focus on finding the secret of getting out of trouble.  Or we look at our escape from struggle as the enabler of finding contentment.  Paul is not saying that he knows how to keep trials at arm's length.  He is not saying that there is a magical secret to avoiding hardships in life.  In fact, God often kept Paul in the midst of hardship, instead of removing him from it.  But instead, Paul is saying that no matter what the circumstances, he can rest content.

Have you ever been stressed out by your financial situation?  If you're human, then probably YES.  Have you ever felt anxiety over a relationship?  Or experienced the weight of loss, or need, or trouble?  These are unavoidable experiences on earth.  We will meet them head on.  And Paul says he knows how to be in the middle of the hard stuff and still be content.  Imagine being $20,000 in the hole and still being able to wake up every morning full of joy and without worry.  Wow.  So what does Paul tell us is the secret to this contentment?

The secret is Christ.

"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."  This is Paul's secret.  And not that we would receive strength from God to get out of the situation, but more often than not, He will fill us with strength that we may remain in it!  Christ is the one who provides what we need to lift our heads, even when those waves keep crashing down on us, and say, "I have joy.  I have peace.  I know contentment today."

What is it that Christ provides? 

Himself.

As Americans, it's easy for us to get wrapped up in the Gospel of Prosperity.  If we are prospering, God must be blessing.  If we are struggling, God's blessing must be absent.  But this is not the Gospel of the Bible.  One of the first recorded teachings we have from Jesus (second only to "Repent") is this:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."
Matthew 5:3-6
Blessed are the people who are just having a hard time.  Because God will meet you there.  There's something we don't hear a lot in our churches on Sunday morning.  It is God's blessing to you when you are struggling.

We will only see the greatness of a Savior when we know that we need to be saved.

When Jesus took on the sin of the world that day on the cross, He gave me freedom from worry.  He gave me freedom from stress and anxiety.  Because no matter what hand this life deals me, I now have the treasure of eternity with Him.  That is why He is the secret to a stress-free life.  Only complete abandonment to Him, only utter dependence on Him, only the realization that His grace is sufficient, will enable us to remain content through the most difficult struggles that the Lord allows into our lives. 

This world of sin sucks.  Sometimes it seems like there's hardship waiting around every corner.  But that's why God gave us Himself, that we can stand to our feet in the middle of our trials and say, "Today, I am content."
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.""
Hebrews 13:5

1 comment:

  1. Tasha, another great post! I came on here this morning looking for the 31 Thursdays post and instead, I found this absolute gem of a message. I really needed it today. Lets just say that the past few days, I've been a bit of a bear. I have felt frustrated with our living situation, money situation, and my health situation. Not content. Not joyful. When I rolled out of bed this morning, I asked God for help getting me out of this funk. Thank you for your words. They were just what I needed this morning. God bless you and your family!
    Sarah

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