Earlier this week I met with a woman who belonged to our church at one time in the past. She is one of many people I have met who told me that they grew up as a part of this congregation. I don't know why or when she left, and she belongs to a different church in town now.
We met because she wanted to find out when some members of her family were baptized. I invited her to come with me to the church and look through some records. Being in the building brought back many fond memories for her. She told me a few stories of things she was involved in at church as a young girl.
The thing that made the most impact on me as we talked was when she told me that she prayed first thing every morning, because her mom had taught her to do that. "A wise woman, your mom was" I told her. Her mother also taught her to develop a heart that could be thankful. Her mother taught her to find things to be thankful for even during difficult periods of life. That is another wise thing to teach a child. Or anyone, for that matter.
In Philippians 4:10-13 Paul writes this:
"I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 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."
Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. It was during a period of imprisonment that would end in his death. When we read Paul's story in the book of Acts we learn that there was much hardship in his life. Beatings, being stoned, shipwrecks, prison. And with that as a background Paul can look on his life and say "I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
Paul doesn't mean that because he believes in Jesus he can do whatever he wants, because he certainly couldn't end his imprisonment. But he does mean that because of who Jesus is, and what Jesus has done, that Paul can find peace and God's presence in each and every circumstance of his life.
The work that God does in the heart of each person who has faith in Jesus is powerful, almost beyond belief. Like Paul and the woman I met with this week, let us each learn to rely on the presence and power of God in each circumstance of our lives, giving our thanks to Him, to His eternal glory.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.