The Bible Speaks
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am in.” Philippians 4:11
A man with a long face was asked by a friend how he was doing. “I’m okay, under the circumstances” he replied. His friend then said “then that is your problem, you are UNDER your circumstances when you should be ABOVE them.” Today’s text reminds us that the great Apostle would agree with the sad man’s friend. Paul had learned to be content in every situation, good or bad. He had come to a place of total trust in the Lord regarding his life and total satisfaction with all Christ provides, needing nothing else. Reader, would you not like to be at the same place? Can you think of a better life than such a one as Paul lived when he exclaimed his contentment in every circumstance? For Paul, whether he was prosperous or in want; in comfort or in need, was content. His circumstances did not dictate his disposition.
How does this beloved apostle, who saw more suffering and persecution than any of his contemporaries, maintain an equilibrium of contentment under such wildly shifting circumstances? He writes in the next verses that he had times of prosperity and times of severe want; times of abundance and times where he suffered great need. Those who are poor can sometimes arrive at a level of contentment due to accepting their poverty and those who are rich will glory in their riches but to be up and down and to know prosperity and poverty and yet maintain a healthy attitude is something akin to superhuman for most of us. How did he do it?
Thankfully, he tells us in the next verse: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” In context, he is saying that he can have joy in every situation because of the relationship he has with Christ. The Lord Jesus, not his circumstances, was his focus and therefore his ups and downs were steadied by the stability he had in Him. “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb. 13:8); His love never changes and His presence never fades. He is the one constant in an ever changing world and the anchor for the soul in the inevitable storms of life. Riches, success and fame are fleeting; low points, suffering and hardships are unavoidable, but Jesus NEVER changes. His love for you will always be the same. Center your life, as Paul did, upon Christ; place your hopes and dreams in His hands and contentment will be your constant companion in good times and in bad.
The Bible speaks of contentment in every circumstance. If you desire to have an inner life of peace and fulfillment, you must take your eyes off your situation and place them upon your Savior. Jesus said that we would have tribulation in the world but that in Him we would have peace. (Jn. 16:33) Live above your circumstances with Him and not under them.
The Rev. Bruce MacInnes is pastor at Turner’s Chapel.