The Apostle Paul was well acquainted with adversity and poverty. In I Corinthians 4:11-12 he explains his plight, “To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.” So is it surprising to see Paul write here, ” I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…”? Contentment in our life can be as simple as looking at the glass as half full, rather than half empty during trials and tests. It can be expressing gratitude to God for the rain, (the blessings) in the midst of the raging storm in our life. For the secret to personal contentment for anyone can only be found in the deep and abiding relationship with God the Father.
When we praise the Lord with a heart full of thankfulness…we rise. We rise above our circumstances, we rise above the current pain, and we rise above our negative emotions. But when we just complain to the Lord…we remain. We remain stagnant in the mess around us, and we remain unhappy…wallowing in self-pity. Now that’s not saying we can’t ever complain to the Lord…Jeremiah and Habakkuk did for a few…but in the end they turned their protests into praise. That’s because they looked beyond their griping and grumbling to the bigger picture of gratitude. When we praise, we rise…but when we complain, we remain.
It says Jesus touched her and she recovered. It was through that gentle touch, Jesus spoke volumes…He voiced love and concern for her…and He spoke health and healing into her body. And it was out of a grateful heart, the woman got up and served Jesus and the rest of the men. Now, you may have never been raised up out of a death-bed before, but the same grateful heart this woman had should be yours. Why you ask? In Romans 5:8 it tells us, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” So in a way you’ve also been raised up from a death-bed…for you were once dead in your sins. But through God’s great love for you, a way was made. And Jesus touched you and made you whole…so how can you be anything but grateful?
With over 30 years under my belt as a Christian…it’s only with sincere thankfulness and gratitude I can proclaim that it’s only by the grace of God I am what I am today. For it’s only by God’s unearned and unmerited favor that I have been changed…justified freely by His grace through the redemption that comes through Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24) And I strive daily to show Him that the grace He lavished on me was not futile or a waste of time…for this grace God showed me – I need to be passing on freely to others.
We tend to thank God when good things happen…when prayers are answered or people are healed. But what about when things aren’t so good? Can we still find gratitude within pain and sorrow? Can we be like Job, who after losing everything near and dear to him, exclaimed,” The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, may the name of the Lord be praised.” Expressing gratitude to God within the storm moves our eyes off the chaos around us and focuses it on above.
Take on a frame of mind of appreciation today for the world to see. Not just a commonplace- “Oh, thanks! You have a nice day too!” appreciation, but a gratitude for your fellow-man that will stop them short and make them curious as to what’s so special about you. That’s when you can sincerely share with them the reason for your hope and thankfulness. Have an attitude of gratitude today…it will become contagious to all those around you.