“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13 (NASB)
Have you have found yourself in a place of disappointment? A place where you struggled to see the goodness of God? Everyday walking through life hearing people shout and scream about the “goodness” of a faithful God but sadly not seeing it in your own circumstances. Instead, it all looks the exact opposite of what You thought God said it would look like?
I know exactly what you’re thinking. Not long ago I, myself, was in a place where I felt like maybe God just doesn’t love me. Maybe he doesn’t see me. Maybe He’s not interested in everything I’ve done to follow Him. In the book of Philippians, Paul shares with fellow believers what it means to be “content.” In short, He says the secret is to be okay with where you are whether good or bad. A secret I didn’t learn until I took time to sit with God Himself. I have asked Him, “God, if you’re good, then how come nothing is making sense. Why does it seem like it’s one thing after another?!” I was angry and frustrated. I decided I needed to take a break from God. I thought maybe it would be better off if I went back to what I use to do, at least it was easier. This is reminisced of what I read in Exodus 17:1-7. The Israelite had just watched God bring them out of slavery. They saw Him part the Red Sea, deliver them out of the hands of The Egyptians, and safely guide them into the wilderness with all their family, livestock, gold and silver. And in Chapter 17 the Israelites found themselves in a place called Rephidim, this was considered the place where there was no water. Their circumstances had change dramatically. They’d had a promise from God that they were going into a land flowing with milk and honey; a place promised to them. This the thing though, that while they were on their way to the promise land, they couldn’t see what was ahead, and what was in front of them seemed too big a task for God to handle. So they asked Moses “why’d you take us from Egypt where we had water to a place where there isn’t any?” They begin to glorify a past that didn’t exist.
Like the Israelite, I too started to think and act just the same. Blaming God for the mess my life was, asking Him why? I developed what I call a “questioning spirit.” This is a spirit that comes over us when we allow ourselves to believe that our realities couldn’t possibly mean God is good and faithful. I wanted someone to blame, actually I needed to blame someone. Things started to get harder, so I wanted to run to my safe place. I wanted to go back to what I already knew, even though I knew the first time I was there it hadn’t worked. When things started looking rough or hard this is what we tend to do as people, run to what seemed of looked safe or ask why me; essentially looking for someone to blame. Instead of running to a God who ?says, “He would never leave nor forsake us.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) We stay in a place we all turn and stay in – a comfortable place.
In retrospect it does seems easier. But Paul so graciously reminds us that the secret of being content is knowing that Christ who is with us, strengthens and fuels us to be able to whether whatever storm. It’s when we take our eyes off of Christ that we allow what’s in front of us to take control. So often we assume that there won’t ever be a storm, or that weapon forms. We assume that because God is good and faithful that His beloved would never suffer. Even though Christ who suffered endure much more. Peter said: “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21 NIV) Like Paul our stories will include suffering, sacrifice, and struggle. And like him when we submit of own desires to the direction of God that we too will experience what it means to have pure joy and riches in the unending Gospel and Glory of Christ Jesus. The same God who provided for Paul and the Philippians, as well as generations and generations of Believers who have come before us He will also supply all our needs “according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19) We must learn that our place of contentment isn’t in our circumstances or in what we have control over but instead, it’s in knowing that we have a God who has a plan. It’s in knowing that because God’s love for us in His plans we will be okay!
Contributed by – Tashanta Ford (Shani)
In the midst of my pain I found a God who fiercely sought after me. In 2017 I was in a broken place lost, living without purpose, and wanting to be found. Through the love of God I was able to find a peace that would change a rebel into a righteous women. I am from California, but currently living in Chicago, Illinois. Now walking a path to help change people perspectives on what it means to walk in Gods grace. I believe since I was able to find happiness, and true joy that everyone I encounter should and can find it too. Through The Sanctuary I have been able to grow in my walk while pursing the life that God has called me to.