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. Philippians 4:12

A friend of mine makes the statement “You can do anything for awhile if you see the end in sight.” There is some truth to this statement. If we know the struggle we are in is temporary we know we can probably endure. For example, a runner will see the finish line ahead and often get a quick burst of adrenaline that helps to cross the finish line.

But what about in the spiritual life? What about those times along this journey we call life when we don’t know the outcome. When the doctor’s report isn’t what we’d hoped. When our children start making bad choices. When our spouse begins to drift from us emotionally. What then? If we don’t see the end in sight what helps us to keep going?

It’s during those times when life seems uncertain that we need to look at the life of Paul and his motivation for moving on. Today’s verse seems like a ‘pie in the sky by and by’ statement until we realize what had happened in the life of Paul. He’d been stoned and left for dead. He’d been lost at sea after a shipwreck. He had spent nights in the cold dark cell of prisons and, on one occasion, lived through an earthquake while underground. Relationally he was hated by many of his closest friends, held in suspicion by his new friends, critiqued for his preaching and leadership styles, and now, sat in a Roman prison awaiting execution!

So with all that history and an uncertain future what was his secret to ‘being content’? Paul had learned the hard way that God can see us through anything. What Paul is NOT saying is that life in Christ is a breeze, and void of any adversity or conflict. What Paul IS saying is that every time he came upon an obstacle he found that his faith in Jesus Christ was powerful enough to see him through!

In Christ you can do anything when you realize that whatever is going on in your life is temporary. Temporary in the sense that here on earth the worst that could happen is death, and, for the Christ-follower the best that could happen is to be transformed from this frail human body into the glorious body we receive when we see Jesus.

Learning contentment comes from seeing how God helps you through adversity. Sometimes you don’t see it until you’ve come through the fire or through the flood. Sometimes you don’t realize it until after the divorce or miscarriage. Sometimes you won’t realize it until you are on the other side of life, looking back as Paul did.

The Psalmist says (Psalm 34:8) to taste and see that the Lord is good. Until we’ve tasted of his goodness through adversity we will never learn contentment in this life.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the reminder that you know better than anyone what I’m going through right now. I don’t see even a hint of light at the end of this tunnel. I have no idea what lays on the other side. Empower me with your spirit to taste your goodness in the light of this trial. Let me look back on my life to see how you have seen me through. With you on my side I know I can ‘do anything’ because my future is in your hands. In Jesus name, Amen.

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