“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is “good,” because is it good, if “bad” because it works in us patience, humility, and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”
It doesn’t happen very often these days as our kids are spread out from St. Louis to Louisville to the Cincinnati area, but we had a rare family meal a few months ago and I think all five of us enjoyed the time together around the table. As the C.S. Lewis quote above says, we are thankful for the “good” and like all families we have plenty of “opportunities” for the working of patience. Life is always a challenge and I imagine we’ll have our moments over the next few days, but it reminds me of a familiar passage in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
“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 everything through him who gives me strength. ” Philippians 3:11-13
Three brief observations in Paul’s writing:
1. “I have learned”. For most of us learning is a process full of advances and failures. From his writing, it seems Paul was not always content in every circumstance, but over time he learned the secret to embrace the life he led in Christ.
2. “I know”. Paul’s knowledge of “need” and “plenty” was not just an academic exercise. He didn’t just know about poverty and pain or prosperity, he experienced the ups and downs of life just like us and in most ways his life was much more challenging.
3. “I can”. Hungry or Satisfied. Wealthy or Poor. At the end of the day Paul put his trust and hope in God not in his circumstances and the result for Paul was the ability to “do everything through him who gives me strength.”
At the beginning of this day, let us begin to learn and know and do all through the strength of Christ who is at work in us.