“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 living in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
By the time he wrote these verses, Paul was an old man, in prison for his faith and awaiting a trial before the Roman emperor. Every moment of every day was spent under the watchful eye of a Roman guard. Every day could be his last.
Yet through it all, Paul was content.
How? How could Paul possibly have a sense of contentment in the midst of so much pain and uncertainty?
Paul willingly shares his “secret.” Throughout his life, he experienced times of abundance and times of lack. He went through seasons of life where his cupboards were full. Other times his stomach was empty. But with all of these ups and downs, there was one constant that provided a reliable, ever-present source of assurance and strength.
Paul’s secret to contentment was Jesus! Trusting Jesus and leaning into his strength in every circumstance.
Thanksgiving is a time to take stock of our blessings and give thanks to God for all He’s done. But beyond that, we should begin to cultivate this same kind of contentment in our own lives. We shouldn’t measure our success or our happiness by our possessions. What matters at the end of the day is knowing Jesus and living in the strength that only He can provide.
There is a praise chorus that sums this up beautifully:
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ.
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life.
Will you make it a point this Thanksgiving to thank God simply for who He is and for His sufficiency? Let us, like Paul, be content to live in and through His strength!