Each new stage of life brings with it new thrills and woes, new friends and foes, new highs and lows, that’s just how it goes. Some life phases hit us unexpectedly. Others we see coming long before they fully assault us. We face each change in life with defiant quips like “bring it on!” or “hit me with your best shot!” Sometimes we wish away difficult years resigned to just get through it. Later, looking back, we regret that we failed to recognize how good life was.
Through all of Paul’s experiences of zealous commitment to the law, contending against Christ’s church, huge enlightened change in life perspective and understanding, and great suffering encountered taking the gospel to a pagan world; he learned something very empowering. “For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased and I know how to abound . . . both to abound and to suffer need” (Philippians 4:11-12)
Wouldn’t that be nice; to be contented? We could begin each new chapter with contentment and not resistance; acceptance not resignation. So, how do we find contentment? Do we close our eyes so that we can’t see all the treacherous road ahead? Do we imagine things that are not true so that we can delay our fear until the worse has come? How can we become contented when there is so much uncertainty, unpredictability, instability, and bad stuff?
Here is Paul’s confidence. This is where Paul found calm, confident, contentment. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). That is not a statement Paul hoped to be true. That is not some mantra he put his faith in. Paul learned this. His experience with Jesus in the most difficult life moments is that he was always strengthened to endure, to survive, and to win. He lived life knowing the outcome.
I can … because of Jesus. I can be content in whatever state I am. And in that calm, confident, contented presence, I can enjoy what God has given me, where He has placed me, and what He is doing in and around me. Thank you Jesus!