Philippians 4:11 ~ "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am."
Ouch... I can admit that I fall so short on this one. Paul has learned this valuable trait but I don't know that I have even been working on it. I read this verse when a lot of things are going on in my life. There is a lot of the unexpected. A lot of unexpected. A lot of chaos and learning. A lot coming at me that is followed by a lot of groaning and grumbling and a fair share of complaining.
Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of good too, but some days I feel the bad outweighs the good. There are some days when I feel like my life matches my swimming abilities. I'm not a strong swimmer. I can doggy paddle pretty well and sometimes mimic a decent swim stroke. I can do well enough to get across the deep end of the pool, although halfway across I get tired and struggle. Sometimes I'm not sure I'll reach the other side. Sometimes I really have to push myself to get to the other side because there is no alternative. You stop swimming and you'll sink. I know that if the waters were rougher I might not make it but I would have to try.
This is life, my life anyway, and I complain sometimes. Sometimes at great length. I haven't learned to be content, and when Paul says he has I shrink away and hope to sneak out of the room before others realize my guilt.
How can I fix this? How can I be content in the good, the bad, and the ugly? I first need to become aware. Am I grumbling? Am I complaining? I need to try to catch myself.
Recently I read the classic Pollyanna. One thing I loved from this book was the glad game. In all situations Pollyanna tries to look at the bright side and find something to be glad about. It starts when her family is in a missionary setting and received a barrel of supplies. She was hoping for a doll but got crutches instead. Her father teaches her the game and she's glad that she doesn't need the crutches.
So, looking back on the verse: "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." Paul immediately follows this with detail about living with humble means and prosperity, being full and hungry, having abundance and need. This is followed also by the popularly quoted verse of Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
We can do this, and God can help. We can set our sights on thinking of our blessing and being thankful for what we do have. We can play the Glad Game and try to find a silver lining in whatever cloud is raining on our parade that day.
We can learn "to be content in whatever circumstances" we face. We can do it...aren't you glad?