This is the last in this series, whew, aren’t you glad? Anyway, I was watching TV and a shoe infomercial began. “Buy now and get a second shoe understorage container for”, oh, I don’t remember but probably both for “$19.99.” Two contained enough room to fit 48 shoes. Forty-eight shoes!!!
Who has that many shoes?” I said and laughed with my husband at the same time.
My ridicule went on, that’s a different shoe for each day of the month and then some. What kind of people have that many shoes, and why? They would never use’em all. Can’t they just be happy and content with what they possess?
That night getting clothes ready for the next day, I noticed my shoes on the closet shelves and under my clothes and some in boxes. Oh no! I have shoes for summer, sandals, flip flops, walking/athletic tennis shoes, dress shoes, winter shoes, work shoes, yard shoes….. And it’s crazy, I have more than one for each occasion with varying colors. Ummm, do I eat my words now or… And no, I’m not going to tell you how many. And I have a coupon for 20% off at Famous Footwear, right now.
Strength for the State You’re In
“For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11
We have read and said these words many times. Paul was writing to the believers in Philippi from prison. He said he “learned” to be content. This contentment does not mean happiness, but rather satisfied. It was not automatic when he met the Lord. Through what circumstances did he learn?
“In far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was ship-wrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. …Dangers from rivers, … robbers, …countrymen, …Gentiles, …city, …wilderness, …sea…false brethren… Many sleepless nights, in hunger, and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” 2 Corinthians 11:23-27
How could Paul say he was in a state of contentment? “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24 His life’s purpose was to do/be whatever God had in store for him.
Can we say we are content with whatever God puts in front of us? I know it will not be traumatic like Paul’s, but we will go through times of trouble. The question is, will we be content, can we trust God to carry us through any hardship? And I hear a resounding yes from all of you.
But let’s bring this home. Contentment when a child or family member gets sick. Contentment when personal relationships are rocky. Contentment when your business goes downhill, or you are laid off. Contentment when there’s no money for medical bills, or to help others. Contentment when the pantry has only a few cans and you are tired of sandwiches. Contentment when bill collectors call and foreclosure looms. Contentment when government appears to close in on freedoms.
Have we really learned to be content like Paul when we rattle off that verse? I believe the only way to live that verse with conviction is, when in our discontent we become acquainted with contentment.
Here’s Paul’s secret. Philippians 4:12-13. “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Here it is! “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
That’s the true context for that verse. In our difficult times, He gives Strength in the Strain, to Stand, to See, for Security and for our State of Contentment.
May God’s strength be exhibited in all His children.