Day 12: Philippians 4:11-13
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 all this through him who gives me strength.
Despite finding himself “in chains for Christ” (Philippians 1:13), Paul shares a message of joy and hope in his letter to the Church in Philippi. Taking care to first express his gratitude to the Philippians for their financial support, he uses this opportunity to teach them more about the providence and provision of God, and the expectancy and contentment of the believer who would wait on the Lord. Paul was encouraging believers to be “content”, not with circumstances but in circumstances.
I don’t know about you, but for me the waiting used to be one of the darkest of places. A place that screamed emptiness, lack and despair. A place void of all hope. A place that could not be more different to the surprisingly serene and humble picture of godly contentment that Paul paints here.
Before we start comparing ourselves, however, it’s key to remember that Paul was not born with this kind of faith, but developed it painfully and tediously by walking with the Lord so that he learned to be content with anything, to live above things and to be unaffected by circumstance. He had learnt the “secret” … he had learnt what it meant to wait well on the Lord. Something well worth getting to grips with!
For it’s in the waiting that God develops our purpose, our character, our destiny. It takes spiritual muscle to carry a promise of God and who knows we can all fall short when we try to make things happen without Him. It’s while waiting on the Lord that we grow down in the depths of our spirit and God begins to work the fruit of the Spirit inside of us. In James 1:4 it says “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” That certainly sounds like the kind of contentment Paul was advocating and the kind we could all use in our lives.
Many of us are finding ourselves in a period of enforced waiting right now. It requires an active obedience, but it’s also ours to embrace as a gift and an opportunity. My prayer is that we would continue to embrace our physical “lack” in this season, knowing that – by the grace of God – we need never lack spiritually. We have a personal responsibility in this time to put our trust in God. We need only look at Sarah to understand why. When she finally got to the place where she believed that God was the faithful One, she was given the strength to conceive the seed!
Who or what is it that you are waiting on right now? Because the truth is, only the Lord can promise the kind of hope that is able to sustain us through the dark times and beyond. When we say yes to God, we get ready for Him to do something that we cannot do without Him. So there is no better time than now to encourage ourselves in the Lord, to allow Him to grow us from the inside out, and to become strong in Him.