“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.”Philippians 4:12
We all face moments when we’re confronted with situations and circumstances that are overwhelming. Perhaps it’s a health issue. Maybe it’s a relationship. Or it could be a spiritual struggle challenging your faith. From time to time, we find ourselves confronted with challenges that have us looking up from what feels like a deep, scary pit. We’ve all been there.
I vividly remember a time in our family when I felt overwhelmed. We had uprooted from our home in the Houston area and moved to Brownwood, Texas, so I could resume college. Cheryl and I were raising two young daughters, and it took almost every dime we had to make the move. Just two weeks into our adventure, our bank account only held $2.13. I did not have a job yet. I had paid what I could to get started in school. Our diet consisted of canned tuna and Ritz crackers. Not exactly what I had envisioned.
One Saturday morning I prayed, asking the Lord to show me what to do next. Around noon the mailman deposited his offerings into our mailbox at the street. Stacks of advertisements, as usual, addressed “To Resident.” At the bottom of the pile, I found a small white envelope with no return address. Inside was a note wrapped around a money order. It simply said, “Praying for all of you. Thought you might need this…”
The apostle Paul found himself in a much tougher light when he penned his letter to the church at Philippi. Facing horrendous trials, he found himself in a damp and lonely prison cell. Despite the threat of death and unimaginable pain, Paul recognized the strength God gives when we are far from the “good and everything-is-okay” moments.
In Philippians 4:13, he wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” However, we must back up one verse to find the foundation upon which this incredibly optimistic and encouraging verse is built. “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.”
When I opened that unexpected letter on that Saturday morning, the money met a temporary need. More importantly, the dear note inside made an indelible impression on me of God’s faithfulness. That letter will always serve as a lasting reminder to me of how I can trust God and be content in the overwhelming seasons of life.