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.
Paul made it a habit of practicing gratefulness. In not only this letter to the Philippians but in his letter to the Romans he showed his appreciation and encouragement. In Romans 1:8 he writes, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…” Why did he do this? Well, in Philippians 1:7 Paul goes on to add, “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart.” Paul not only practiced a grateful heart, but he went on to affirm the good in people. For when we show appreciation, say thank you, and speak positive words into someone…they are built up, edified, and given new self-worth.
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?