Sep15SatSeptember 15, 2018
“...not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)
The Apostle Paul claimed to have discovered the secret of being “content in all circumstances,” but for me it’s a stretch. I struggle to find gratitude in my heart when September snowstorms cut a short summer even shorter. I wrestle with contentment in a world where degenerative neurological diseases rob the elderly of memories and voluntary muscle control. My reeling mind asks, “How can I be content when millions face starvation or a lack of clean water?” Within the experience of loss, or pain, gratitude is one of the first things to go. Perhaps you struggle with these things too.
But then I read the passage again and catch a glimpse of the window through which the light shone into Paul’s hard life. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Isn’t this the foundation of thanksgiving?
It isn’t the gifts themselves, the blessings or lack thereof, it isn’t the pain or the hardship that matter most, but it's the intimate, gentle and gracious presence of God himself which strengthens us and gives us the ability to be truly thankful in all circumstances. In other words, Jesus himself is the treasure, and since he has promised never to leave or forsake us, we can always find a reason to give thanks.
We’re reminded often that in comparison to most of the world, we have so much to be thankful for, and it's true! But whether your gratitude comes flooding in easily like the warm aroma of roasting turkey, or whether you wrestle your gratitude out of the painful realities which also abound in this broken world, I pray that you will give thanks this season for the gift of gifts, Jesus, who has given himself to you. May the richness of Jesus himself, the experience of his love and his presence, be your source of contentment, whatever your circumstances.
Pastor Curtis and family