For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. –Philippians 4:11
Paul the Apostle certainly knew what he was talking about. He had learned to be content whatever the circumstances. This did not come to him naturally, just as it doesn’t come to any of us naturally. By nature, we are not content. As babies we are not content. We want attention, we want to be cuddled, we want food, NOW, when we are hungry, we want to be clean and warm when we are dirty. As we grow, that natural desire grows also. We have, but we want more. We see our neighbor and we want what he has. Always wanting, always getting, never quite content. Contentment must be learned. Contentment is a great gift from God.
So God, our heavenly Father, who disciplines the children he loves, teaches us contentment. Like Paul. God allows us to endure tough times, times of lack, times of poverty, times of danger, times of isolation. He also gives us times of plenty- blessings of wealth, house, home, family, food, clothing, friends, good times. In every circumstance He still empowers us to know and do his will. He teaches us that it is not what we have that makes us close to him, but it is His Word and Sacrament that make us close to him- and those we have whether rich, or poor. sick, or well, imprisoned, or free.
“I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” I have heard that phrase misused so often, so often taken our of context. The body builder quotes it as he lifts his weights and builds, what he thinks, is a beautiful form. The businessman quotes it as he reaches for new heights of success. Paul meant that he could endure all things- the things he just listed- whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want….. all these I can endure through him who gives me strength.
The stay at home order of our governor is growing old and uncomfortable to many people. They are not content. They want to return to life as it was, even protesting against the current orders. Better to use the time to learn to be content. You still have plenty. You are safe and warm at home. You are well fed and well supplied. You have time to grow in faith in God and in love for others. Time for prayer and Scripture. You can do this. “You can do all things through him who gives you strength.”
“ But godliness with contentment is great gain.7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” -1 Timothy 6:6-10
Lord God, Heavenly Father, forgive my discontent. Help me to learn contentment in every circumstance. Make me truly grateful for all your many blessings. Encourage me to know and trust that I can do this through my Savior who strengthens me. Amen.