I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:10-13 ESV
I don’t consider myself an ice-cream lover, but whenever I have ice-cream, once I have my first scoop, I would want to have a second. The same thing with chips, once I started munching on them, it’s hard to stop! It is the nature of humans to strive for more on the things we think are good. For some it might mean more wealth, more fame, more beauty, the list goes on. But when can we reach the sense of contentment? While Paul was physically in need, he said “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (v11). Contentment is something that he learned, and he learned it through trials in his life. God would also allow trials in our life for us to learn this important lesson. During the pandemic, we learned how essential it is to have enough supply of toilet papers. I never gave thanks to the Lord for toilet papers until 2020! God is willing to take away something from us only for us to learn “if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:8)
Having toilet paper alone cannot keep us content all the time. We are easier to be content when we reach the milestone from having nothing to something. But when we already have something, the desire to have more and more can stumble us. Paul said “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need”. (v12) Paul mastered to be content in all circumstances, let it be in abundance or in need. Paul’s secret is “I can do all things through him (Christ) who strengthens me” (v13). Paul achieved contentment through the strength of Jesus Christ. “Stand firm in the Lord”(Phil 4:1), “agree in the Lord”(Phil 4:2), “rejoice in the Lord”(Phil 4:3), and now being content in the Lord. The Lord is Paul’s secret to almost everything he does! It’s such a great reflection of John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”. How precious that the Lord is the vine, and we are the branches. He supplies everything we need. In Him alone, we can achieve contentment and do all things – not only to chase our on dreams, but to bear much fruits through Him who gives us strength. Yet, apart from Him, we can do nothing. Whether in the darkest valley or up on the glorious peak of a mountain, with the strength of the Lord, we can stand firm, we can rejoice, and we can be content, and do everything He commands us to do. And we can proudly proclaim – “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!”.
Dear Lord, we would tend to want more for the things that we like, but true contentment comes from You. You are the vine, and you are my strength. Help me to remain in You, so with your strength, I can do all things – not to chase my own dreams, but to bare fruits for you, do what You have commanded me to do.
The song “Hill and Valleys” by Tauren Wells came to mind.