Monday, July 30Scripture Reading—Philippians 4:10-20
It is hard to be grateful in every situation. It is next to impossible for most of us to be content in any and every circumstance. We are taught that we control our own destinies, that we can transcend any social circumstance or condition if we just work hard enough. But the truth is, life often hands us conditions, circumstances, and situations that we did not create. We are given a biological identity that comes from our parents’ DNA and are nurtured by other human beings in those years of our lives in which we have no influence or control over other people’s treatment of us. Paul knew what it was to face all kinds of situations that he didn’t feel he could immediately change or escape from. Imprisonment, shipwreck, and punishment at the hands of civil authorities are just a few of those situations Paul faced. But he said “I have learned to be content with whatever I have . . .I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.” Have you learned the secret of contentment, of peace and freedom from anxiety and worry in any and all of life’s circumstances? This does not mean that we passively accept hardships and difficulties without trying to overcome or rise above them. It does mean that as people of faith, we see our problems through a different lens. We see no difficulty, illness, loss, failure, or disappointment as a sign of God’s abandonment of us. The great theologian H. Richard Niebuhr once described his perspective of God’s presence in the world and in our lives: “God is acting in all decisions upon you. So respond to all actions upon you as to respond to [God’s] action.” From the perspective of faith, we believe God is always present with us—in good times and bad. We ask in every situation regardless how joyful or challenging, “As God’s person, how am I called to respond?” Paul faced all the trials and difficulties of his life through this perspective of faith. Thus, he could say with confidence—not in himself, but God—“I can do all things through him who strengthens me!”
Thought for the day: In any and all of our life’s circumstances, God is with us. This is what we see through eyes of faith. And in faith, God calls and empowers to respond to every situation with the confidence that we can endure and overcome all things with God’s help!
Prayer: O God, whatever it is I am facing in this hour, help me, through the perspective of faith, to trust that you have not abandoned me or any I love and that with your help, together we will not only endure, but overcome and attain victory. Amen.