Philippians 4:11 - Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content
• When car companies try to woo customers, they brag about how spacious their vehicle's interior is by emphasizing all the available leg room, head room, and seat room.
• When colleges try to recruit students, they point out the beauty of their campus, the variety of their studies, and the ready availability of scholarships.
• When a business tries to hire a special individual, the company keeps talking about salaries, bonuses, stock options, retirement programs, and a warm-and-relaxed work environment.
But when Jesus calls His disciples, He says something quite different. Rather than pleading with us to join Him, He warns, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his Cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24b).
Rather than pointing out how good things are going to be for His followers, the Savior says, "Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for My Name's sake" (Matthew 10:21-22a).
Truly, God's Word never says Christians won't have problems.
But we are also told that when problems arrive, we can "cast all our anxieties on Him because He cares for us" (1 Peter 5:7). For Christians, a thankful heart does not come because they have it "made in the shade."
They know that they, like everyone else in this world, are sinners (see Ecclesiastes 7:20). They know there is no religious immunization which can make them impervious to agony and anguish. They know true thankfulness, untarnishing thankfulness, cannot be based on the transient and worldly.
They know true thankfulness can only come from an unchanging, always-caring, ever-present God.
Look at the story of Noah. All he once knew was gone: cities gone; farms gone; shopping malls gone; vegetation, wildlife, and relatives, mostly gone. The whole world is before him, but it is a hurting world, empty and void, filled with loneliness. Confronted by this bleak and barren place, Noah leaves the ark and makes a sacrifice of thanks. God's rainbow tells him he is not alone, has never been alone, cannot be alone. Noah, in the face of great loss remains thankful (see Genesis 5-9).
Look at the apostle Paul. He had been shipwrecked and stoned, unjustly accused, and hounded from city to city. He had been mobbed, beaten, jailed, and tormented (see 2 Corinthians 11:24-26). The day would come when he would die for the Savior. Considering all of these things, Paul could write, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).
Indeed, because he had seen what Jesus had done for him upon the accursed cross, Paul "learned to be content in whatever circumstance" he found himself (see Philippians 4:11).
And, by the Holy Spirit's power, we can be given such Christian contentment, too.
THE PRAYER: Lord, grant that my contentment be based on more than this world's fleeting and unreliable pleasures. Instead, let me learn to lean upon the Christ who is with me always. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries