|Good morning everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “The end of anxiety and despair”
Our Bible verse for today: “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” Philippians 4:11-12 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Contentment is the secret”
To be content means to be happy and satisfied with what you have or with the way things are. I love the list of synonyms for content: “Satisfied, gratified, pleased, happy, glad, sunny, cheerful, relaxed, peaceful, tranquil, at ease, easygoing, carefree, and unworried.” That’s what learning to be content brings us.
And please note, in Paul’s description of his own ability to be content in whatever circumstances he found himself (Philippians 4:11-12 above), he stressed twice that he had “learned” how to be content like that. In other words, it didn’t come naturally for him. Remember, in his former life, before becoming a follower of Jesus and then an apostle, Paul had been a Pharisee. He was a member of the religious elite, with all the perks and pampering that came with that exalted position. So, he was used to affluence and comfort.
In his new life as a traveling preacher, teacher, evangelist, and church-planter, Paul still had it pretty good at times. He had rich friends. He was sometimes the guest of important people. He was often honored and blessed and well-provided for. But there were other times when the opposite was true. There were times when he was oppressed, beaten, imprisoned, hungry, thirsty, and penniless. Paul experienced the extremes on both ends, and everything in-between as well.
But somehow, over time, he learned that his outward circumstances were not the determining factor for his sense of contentment, peace, tranquility, or satisfaction. His peaceful, cheerful, easygoing, carefree and unworried demeanor didn’t depend on what was happening on the outside, but instead what was true on the inside (in his heart). In verse 13 of that passage he wrote, “I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Remember the old gypsy woman from yesterday’s devotional? This is what she was talking about too. Jesus was enough. Everything else was incidental. It’s not that outward circumstances didn’t matter, they did. It was just that outward circumstances weren’t allowed to have the final say in her life, or in the life of the Apostle Paul.
Learning contentment is vital to learning to live free from anxiety and despair. What’s happening inside your heart is much more important than what’s going on with outside circumstances. This is a learned skill, and we will talk more about it in the days and weeks to come as we continue to explore ways in which we can bring an end to anxiety and despair having an outsized influence in our lives.
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