New International Version
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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 in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
14 Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.
At the heart of this powerful passage lies the Secret of Contentment, never more appropriate than the day following new guidelines which might seem to open new possibilities for the coming months. Here’s a paraphrase for our times:
“I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live in continued self isolation, enforced quarantine, or with the freedom to do whatever I want and see whomever I want. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is in pandemic conditions or back to life “as we knew it before”; having the opportunities to work, socialise, hug others, and meet together with no restrictions at all, or if this state of lockdown continues. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Don’t be mistaken – Paul doesn’t say these things in a careless way. He is clear that all this is only possible if we truly know Jesus and understand His love for us. Only then will we have power to choose, like Paul, to trust that God is in control. Only then can we focus on God’s priorities – love, faithfulness, obedience, patience – and care for His people, no matter what our situation is.
Lord, fix my eyes on You as I go into this day. Help me to live as one dearly loved, whose life is wholly in Your care. Only then will I, like Paul, be able to say that I know the secret of being content because it is You alone who strengthens me to face all circumstances with deep joy.