Three times he was beaten with rods. Five times he received 39 lashes of the whip. Three times he was shipwrecked and once stoned and left for dead. Yet, the Apostle Paul declared that in every situation, he was content.
Whether he had little or plenty, whether he was in a place of comfort or in suffering, Paul declared:
“I (Paul) have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation . . .” (Phil.4:12 NIV)
hungry and suffering, yet still content?
With the turmoil and uncertainty that come with 21st Century living, who doesn’t find it at times, maybe even most of the time, a struggle to be content? And when I am faced with uncomfortable challenges, difficult situations, or overwhelming events in my life, my typical response is just to “grit my teeth” – “to grin and bear it” – to just endure it. But certainly I wouldn’t declare that I am content in those situations. But not Paul!
He learned how to be content in the most difficult times of his life. Even while imprisoned in Rome facing certain execution, he possessed an inner peace. But fortunately for us Paul didn’t keep this secret of living, the secret of how to live in contentment, to himself. For in the very next verse, he reveals his secret:
“(For) I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Phil 4:13 NLT)
Paul’s secret was to draw on Christ’s strength which empowered him to be content even in uncertain and adverse times. And what was true for Paul remains true for us today. We can learn to be content when we face uncertainty and adversity – by turning to the Lord for strength.
After all it was Jesus who taught us to pray this way:
“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt 6:11)
Surely this means more than asking the Lord for a daily provision of food. It means we can also ask Him for the bread of strength each day – strength that comes from His wisdom, His comfort, His mercy, and His favor. This is the daily bread that will strengthen us as it did Paul, so that we too can be “content in any and every situation.”