Strength to endure all circumstances

Published 9:40 pm Friday, October 3, 2014

Gale and I had the great privilege of driving to Arkansas recently to visit my brother and his family.

It had been several years since we had been there, so we were excited about the opportunity, and this trip was even more special because we were going for an additional purpose:  a wedding.

As Gale and I settled into our room in Hot Springs we discovered that we had a lovely and relaxing view looking out over a lake with the Arkansas hills in the background.

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And when it came time for the wedding, that was a beautiful scene as well as I led my nephew and his fiancé into their commitment to a lifetime of love and faithfulness.  It was a beautiful and happy ceremony, followed by a wonderful celebration as we joined them for their reception.

After we returned to the car and prepared to start the long journey back home, I checked my phone and found that I needed to return a missed call.

I did so and learned that a dear friend had been hospitalized with a severe condition.

Very quickly I descended from the happiness shared with a just married couple to that of deep concern for someone in trouble.

Thankfully our friend has shown great improvement since that phone call and we are expecting her to have a full recovery.

Yet those two events—one full of happiness and the other filled with deep concern—are real reminders of the wide variety of events that we face in life and the uncertainties that we have to deal with throughout life.  It is also another reminder of how much we need more than our natural strength to sustain us as we encounter the various ups and downs that come our way.

Paul, one of the great men of God who wrote much of the New Testament, had a firm grasp on the meaning of life and he understood how to face the variety of things that he encountered in his journey of faith.

He expressed it succinctly in Philippians 4:12 with these words:  “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” (New International Version).  Interestingly, he wrote those words while he was in prison because of his faith—a most unlikely place to instruct others about contentment.

Paul’s contentment did not mean that he simply accepted his circumstances without taking advantage of his rights (in Acts 25:11 he expressed his determination to appeal his case to Caesar).

Nevertheless, whatever his circumstances—good or bad, fair or unfair—he knew the answer that enabled him to endure them all.

His source of strength was in Jesus Christ and he could state with confidence, “I can do everything through Him Who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

When you find the instability and uncertainty of life forcing you to adjust to situations more rapidly than you have the ability to, remember the secret that Paul discovered centuries ago—trusting Christ.

As you trust Him, He will be your source of strength, endurance and enablement.