Thursday September 3, 2020
Greater Than My Circumstances
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, 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.
I have always loved this passage. In recent years, it has been a go-to for my wife, particularly verse 6. This whole block of Scripture is so familiar to so many of us. But have you ever paid attention to the tension in the text? Have you ever felt the tension? How does one become anxious for nothing? In a time filled with uncertainty, anxiety feels like the norm more often than it should.
I, myself, am particularly struck by verse 12-13. “I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.” Paul suggests that there is a secret to contentment. Mardel’s, Barnes and Noble, Lifeway, and Amazon are full of books trying to help you learn the secret to happiness, and the Apostle Paul says that he has the secret. The secret is simply this—Jesus Christ. Christ alive in you, infusing grace into you, can give you the capacity to handle everything life throws your way.
What a powerful statement, especially given Paul was under house arrest while writing this text. While imprisoned, he says to his readers, and to us, even the chains of his incarceration were incapable of robbing him of his freedom. He could be content, satisfied, fulfilled in any circumstance. The word there for “contentment” is a Greek word that means self-sufficient. The paradox of that statement is that his ultimate sufficiency was not in and of himself. It was the sufficiency of Christ. He recognized that God’s grace truly is sufficient, not only for the trauma of tragedy but also the weight of success. Whether hungry or well-fed, whether victorious or defeated, whether high or low, in all of it, joy and satisfaction. In all of it, you can do all things if Christ is the one who gives you strength.
Prayer for Today
For you, today, I pray that you experience the sufficiency of God’s grace in your life. I pray that you choose to trust God with all of the circumstances you face. In giving yourself, your life, and your day to God, I pray you come to know a peace that relieves you of your various anxieties. Today, I pray you find your “anxious for nothing” moment, and it becomes the blueprint for your life.
In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
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