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?
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.
And I do want to thank each one of you! Today marks the 5th Anniversary of the Safetypinlove.com. This post is its 1639th devotional…reaching into 121 countries around the world. As I marvel at God’s work, His faithfulness, and His divine guidance, I want to take this moment to thank each and every one of you who have faithfully stood by me in this endeavor over the last five years. Your words of encouragement and support have spurred me on many times when I felt I couldn’t continue. So what have I learned in 5 years writing this daily devotional? I’ve learned that God can use anyone as long as they are obedient. He will take what you have, and then bless and multiply it for His glory. I’ve learned that my vision is minuscule compared to God’s vision…and that I shouldn’t limit His vision for me or for this Devotional. And finally, I’ve learned to be grateful…grateful for readers who share posts with others over Social Media, thankful for each new country that’s been added to the Reader base, and especially I thank God for you…whether you’ve been part of this for the last 5 years, or you’ve stumbled upon this for the very first time today…know that you’re not here by chance, but that God has brought you here for a reason. For the Lord loves you and His Word is alive and powerful and filling the world. To Him be the glory! Pam
I read the first part of this verse, and I’m ready to throw in the towel…I fail miserably in all areas, everyday. Too often, I allow discouragement and trouble to cause me to become exasperated and defeated Spiritually. My rejoicing turns to whining, my gratefulness turns to grousing. But the key to this verse lies at the end…for this is God’s divine purpose for us, His good pleasure for our lives as we depend on Him, not ourselves to accomplish it. Through Him I can achieve all this and be victorious…and so can you!