I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11
This morning was one of those good for the soul types of mornings that are unfortunately rare. I woke up when I was ready to, not when the alarm clock demanded. I could hear it raining outside, which I love. My puppy was curled up outside our room waiting for me and, once my coffee was on the table beside me, he curled up with me under a blanket on the couch for my quiet time. As I read my Bible, I heard him start to gently snore and I felt something I haven’t felt in a while. Contentment. Joy and peace right where I was in that small moment.
If you read my last blog post, you can probably infer that being content is a challenge for me right now. God has not yet answered all of my prayers the way I want Him to. He has not yet given me all of the desires of my heart. And I would be a liar and a hypocrite if I said I never struggled with that.
Trust me, the past few months have been hard. I have asked God a lot of questions and have been a passenger against my will on the roller coaster of the grieving cycle. Anger, sadness, acceptance, hope, anger, sadness, acceptance, hope. Most days I’m just hanging on, hoping I’ll eventually reach the end of this particular ride.
But, today, even though God hasn’t miraculously stepped in to heal my heart and solve all my problems, He did grant me many gifts. Stu and I celebrated one year of marriage this weekend. Even though we had a hard loss, our first year has been overwhelmingly good. I am so grateful that God answered my prayer of many years for a godly husband who loves me. God didn’t just answer that prayer, He exceeded my expectations and blessed me beyond what I asked of Him.
God also gave me the gift of quiet and put His Word on my heart today, right when I needed it. “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
Whatever the circumstances. Well, I am certainly in much better circumstances than Paul was in when he wrote his letter to the Philippians. I am not in prison, awaiting a final decision on my fate. But, I am not happy about how certain things in my life have turned out. How was Paul able to be content, even in such dire circumstances?
One answer came to me this morning, oddly enough as I listened to Maverick snore. He was cuddled up beside me and looked so precious, that for some reason, all of a sudden, I said out loud “I am just so grateful for you, my puppy.” (If you think I’m crazy, I understand.)
Gratefulness. Is that the secret to being content? I checked in Philippians to see if Paul was being grateful…
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…” Philippians 1:3
“But even as I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.” Philippians 2:17
“Rejoice in The Lord always; again I will say rejoice! … Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:4, 6
It checked out. Paul knew that in order to be content, He needed to be grateful for all of the ways God was working, despite his own current circumstances. He set his eyes on joyful things, rather than continually focusing on what he was lacking. He rejoiced in the present moment.
And there was one more thing that Paul knew that would get him through his current situation.
“…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 things through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4: 12-13
God gives us the strength we need to do all things. Is it easy to rejoice when you’re hurting? No, but God will give you the strength. He promises grace and strength for today. For our present moment.
So, today, I am grateful for the time I had to sit and talk with God about my hurts and my struggle. I am grateful that He listened and spoke to me through His Word. I am grateful for my warm house and cup of joe as the rain falls and wind blows. I am grateful for my puppy, who brings me a lot of joy. And, for Stu. The one God chose to walk beside me through all of our happy times and hard times. But mostly, I am grateful to know Christ and His hope. For his grace for every moment.