By Not Known
What if I’m down to my last cents and cannot afford that much-wanted family holiday? What if I’m passed over in that promotion for not playing ‘pet’ politics with my superiors? What if my family has to live strenuously on less with rising costs and growing needs that our incomes cannot match? What if my health and relationship take a negative turn? Will I remain joyful in life and thankful in Christ?
Naturally, we struggle to be joyful and thankful when our much-wanted desires and needs are not met; when our circumstances militate against us. We may forgo our wants to lessen disappointments; we may recalibrate our desires to feel better; but it is hard to live below basic needs, and basic physical and relational levels of well-being. It is hard to be thankful for these life circumstances. But Paul says we can remain joyful in Christ come what may (Phil 4:11-13).
Paul is not teaching positive psychology to trick the mind out of negative thoughts and to condition the heart into imaginative happiness. He is not into anti-depression therapy. In fact, Paul recognises squarely the realities of prosperity and abundance, as well as poverty and hunger. The apostle acknowledges the latter as sufferings! But he also reveals his secret to contentment as he lives through seasons of surpluses and sufferings – God gives strength (v13).
It takes such godly strength to live in the following ways:
• Not to want more when you have sufficient – greed is simply lusting for more… justifying wants in the name of needs that eventually rob the soul of joy;
• Not to hoard when you have more than sufficient – give to the poor and needy whom God has placed amongst us in society;
• To live simply because abundant life consists not in more of material things, but more of Christ (Jn 10:10);
• To live responsibly because a “gambler” or a “squanderer” does not have right of access to God’s strength to finance such foolish lifestyles;
Godly strength gives us godly resilience to weather circumstances that threaten our relationship of trust in God. Meditate on Proverbs 30:8-9. What if you have all your needs and wants met – do you know for sure that you will be in any way closer to God?