I have been doing a lot of listening upon my return to Kyrgyzstan. Everyone has a story to tell of hardships taking place in the country. Inflation has gone wild; countless people cannot afford basic foods and needed medicines. One lady said, “Each month I must decide – which do I buy – food, medicine, or pay for electricity.” It is hard for us in the western world to fathom what many people around the globe endure as a daily challenge to their existence.
Others have told stories of beatings and muggings for all sorts of reasons: ethnic, religious differences, financial needs.
While my heart aches for them in their dire situations, my mind swirls in amazement and admiration at so many of their attitudes. How do they manage to still find smiles and even joke together? The way they live their lives reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:11-13 “…I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.”
Notice that Paul said he has learned “the secret of living in every situation.” What is the secret of his contentment when clearly there are times that Paul doesn’t have enough food or he has been beaten and even thrown into prison? I have studied the contented faces of many here in Kyrgyzstan who often go to bed hungry and have no way to purchase needed medicines or clothing. They too have learned “the secret to living in every situation.” What is it?
It is this: When we can’t change our physical situations to be more pleasant, then we must be extra certain to fill our minds with God’s spiritual truth, letting His Words be our food. Then we will have all we need to be “content in all things.” It is not about learning to be happy in having a problem; it is developing trust in the One who is the Giver of all strength to get us through the problems. That indeed is great contentment.
Remember too, “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” Luke 1:37 That means it is most possible indeed to live in contentment even in the darkest of our days. The secret is the answer to this question: Where is your primary focus? On the problem or the One who gives all we need to get through the problem?