Today, we arrive at the greatest secret found in Philippians 4 involving our trust in the Lord:
…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4: 12-13
This section of Scripture has carried me through the toughest times in my life and I know will continue to provide light for as long as I walk on this valley of sorrows called Earth.
Through loneliness, through sadness, through anxiety, through loss, through infertility, financial hardship, health problems, cancer, problems with my kids…etc., etc. etc., these Holy Spirit-breathed words of Paul have reminded me and assured me that no matter what life puts in front of me, I will be able to face it because it is not by my puny strength that I’ll get through it, but by the Mighty Power of Christ.
I remember hearing, many years ago now, my first sermons on contentment at my beloved New Bedford Church. Pastor Doug’s excellent teaching methods guided me through my first understanding of the word…a word that had not been part of my vocabulary before.
A quick definition of contentment circles us around by saying it is “the state of being content.” That doesn’t help much, but when I looked up the word content, I found it defined as:
pleased and satisfied : not needing more
Concise but infinitely charged with meaning, this definition is a bit of a slap on the face for me. For as long as I have walked on this planet, regardless of where I’ve been or lived, I’ve always felt the sting of discontent. I have always experienced the pressure of dissatisfaction…
When I look at the definition above I see how it somehow hints at the fact that the state of satisfaction derives from not needing more. However, in my personal experience, my discontent comes not exactly from “needing more,” but from “wanting different.” Too often I’ve been that gal that sighs: “but if…”
I have a great job, but if I could only work at __________ Instead of __________. I am thankful for my kids, but if they would only be that way rather than this way. I love my husband, but if he would only (let’s not even go there with this one, huh? J
I’m like the biggest “if-girl” in the world. But one of the “but if’s” I struggle with the most have to do with health issues. I know God can work all things for the good of those who love Him and put their trust in Him (Romans 8: 28) and that He is able and often does turn something that was meant for bad into incredible good…but if only He would have kept me from getting cancer…sigh…
I’ve been afraid of cancer ever since I heard of it for the first time as a young girl. That has been the single-biggest fear I’ve ever had. So when my diagnosis came positive…I felt a descent into a pit of panic and anxiety I have not been able to shake off completely just yet.
Every test, every doctor’s visit, every waiting room…opens the flood gates of worry once again. I really should have no reason to be so concerned about it at all…but I am. I am doing better this year in dealing with the anxiety of upcoming checkups, but the cold sweats still remain. If God would only free me from this mental anguish…if He would only give me peace…instantaneous peace…like magic!
Peace is indeed like a river. It flows abundantly…but not automatically and too often not instantaneously either. It is not that God could not just give us peace in a supernatural way, of course He can. He is God! He can do whatever He wishes. But sometimes there is a process, a road He needs us to go through, to walk on in order to arrive at that river of peace. And the most amazing thing is that it is precisely on that road which we have actively tried to avoid, that we usually meet Jesus transfigured.
As I sit and fret about the tests I’m facing…I wonder if it is not really about being unafraid…but if it really is about trusting Him despite of our fear.
I don’t know if I will ever not be afraid while on this side of Heaven…but what if it is about realizing that I cannot do it on my own. I believe His victory is my victory. I believe that I don’t have to overcome the world because He has already done that for me. He has done it all for me. He has paid it all…and all to Him I owe. What if it really is like my sister in law told me a few days ago…and all I have to do is “enjoy the ride”?
I don’t think I need to be too hard on myself and judge my fear as a sign of complete lack of faith. I think I should look at it as if I am on the road to Him, not there yet, not yet done…and even if I never stop being the “if-girl” I am…it doesn’t matter, because I am not here to seek perfection. I’m here to seek Him.