“For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13 NASB).
The ups and downs of life can easily distract us and sap our energies if we let them. Paul experienced such ups and downs in his journeys; he knew plenty and want, being well-fed and hungry. Yet he learned that even in the midst of life’s rollercoaster, the key to remaining steady—to being content—was found in Christ.
Paul does not intend the statement, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” as many interpret this verse today. It does not mean that if we are believers, we can do anything. Rather, it means that in the midst of the twists and turns of life, the ups and the downs, Paul finds stability and contentment in Christ. That’s his secret for navigating life.
Jesus also noted how the cares of life can distract us, detouring what God wants to accomplish in our lives (see Luke 8:14). If we allow the cares of life to distract us, to dictate our mood or outlook, then our feelings will run our life; they will color our outlook and perspective. We will get too high with the highs and too low with the lows.
This can lead us to being tossed about like a boat on the water. It can also lead us to identifying our circumstances with our relationship to God. Both experiences are not what God wants for our lives; therefore, we find contentment in all things and can endure all things through Christ who strengthens us.
How do you manage the ups and downs of life? Do you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed? Then perhaps you have yet to find the true contentment that Paul spoke about, the realization that you can do all things, whether in want or plenty, whether hungry or well-fed, through Christ, the one who strengthens you.
If others look at us and see us riding the waves of life and our emotions following, are we demonstrating a confidence in the God of the universe as our Father? Perhaps that is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.
Father, in the journey of our lives, may we find contentment in all things. Let us not lose sight of You in plenty or in want but let us find our stability and contentment in You. Amen.