Saturday, May 07, 2011
God afflicted the Apostle Paul by what he called “a thorn in the flesh.” He asked God to take it away, in fact he asked three times, but God told him that he needed to learn to understand that what God had given him was a gracious gift. It was what Paul needed to learn that God’s grace is sufficient and necessary to learn humility and Christ likeness. Paul needed to rely and rest on the strength of God, which could only come through Paul’s weakness.
Paul went on to say that he then applied that truth to every situation he found himself. Whether it was weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, or calamities he was content with God’s provision. He had learned that “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
In another place, Paul tells Timothy that contentment and godliness go hand in hand. Where there is godliness, there is great contentment (1 Tim. 6:6). He says we brought nothing in to this world and we’ll leave it in the same way, and so because we have food and clothing we should be content. God has taken care of us. He loves us and has provided.
The author of Hebrews says the same kind of thing when he says to be content with what you have. This is because God has promised to never leave us nor to forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
All this to say, that when things are thin, or hard, or when we are suffering the many slings and arrows life can send our way, we should be content. We know that God has sent them to us because he loves us and wants us to trust in him alone for our lives. Not only should we trust him to care for us, but we know that he is not on the side-lines fretting about our situation, he is actively involved, strengthening us as we suffer.
One other point I should make before closing. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells the saints that whether he is being brought low, or suffering through being hungry, or in need God is his hope and thus he is content (Phil. 4:11-13). But you’ll notice he also includes in this passage that even when he is abounding, facing plenty, and has abundantly more than he needs, he is also content. He never strives after more in either situation. If he is doing well, he is content and trusting in Christ and if he is in need he is content and trusting in Christ. There is great gain in godliness with contentment (1 Tim. 6:6).