Philippians 4:11-13 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for 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 all things through him who gives me strength.”
Everyone loves a bargain. Whether it be clothes, books, or household items, it makes me feel like I’m doing something good. I recently scored a pair of almost new, brand name sneakers for my daughter, and they made her so happy she abandoned her want for an expensive pair at a shoe store. Given my love for a deal, I was over the moon when I was hired at a local second hand store.
Putting out new items, seeing people get excited over the things they are finding, makes me happy. I also get excited about some things that are donated, really it’s tough not to when something matches the color scheme in your kitchen or would fit you perfectly. The catch is, I can’t shop while I’m working, and there’s only one day that the store is open that I’m not working. My day off is at the end of the week so usually by the time I have a chance to purchase anything, the things I like are gone.
This last week I was really excited about something that came in, not for me but for my husband and as it was still there late in the day on my last shift I was planning how to be back at opening the next day to buy it. Well as it happened, shortly before closing, it went home with someone else. I was deflated. I began to complain to God, have you ever been there? When you start to tell him how unfair it is, how much you’re hurt, how utterly let down you feel. As I stood there, reminding me very much of my seven or ten year old complaining about how the other was being treated far better, it occurred to me. I didn’t need any of the things my eyes had spied, I could live very well without each and every one. I also realized that the money I was saving by not buying things I don’t expressly need could go toward a more robust grocery budget. And groceries are needed regularly with a family of six, half being growing boys.
I know that thought came from the Father because it surely didn’t come from own mind that was quite bent on self pity. It made me stop and think, how many times have I allowed my quest for more come before being content with what I already have? And being discontent leads us into all kinds of trouble, financially, relationally, and spiritually.
When Paul writes to the Philippians and tells them that he’s learned to be content in all things, he knew what it was like to have plenty or be in need. It’s because he’s learned to trust that God knows his needs and will meet them, even if it means he waits a bit longer than he’s expecting. In fact, Paul continues on in 4:14 to 20, that it was through the generosity of the believers at Philippi who became aware of his “troubles” that God, through them, met his needs. But regardless of his circumstances, Paul could “do all things”, including being content. When we can stop looking at what we could gain that would make us happier, and it ultimately won’t, and start being happy with what we have, we’ll be less stressed in all areas of our lives. In fact, Paul tells us that we are not to worry about any situation, but when we pray and are thankful, God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds. Maturing in our faith means allowing ‘things’ we think we need to slip through our hands so that God can put the things into our hands we actually need!