Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 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. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength.
It is impossible to experience negative emotions when filled with a sincere sense of gratitude
Think about it…
Fear says “I can’t do this, it’s beyond my capabilities or resources”
Gratitude says “Thank you for this opportunity to do what I’m only capable of in You Lord and the chance to grow in my trust and reliance upon You for the means”.
Jealousy says “That person doesn’t deserve that, they are no where near as worthy as I am”
Gratitude says “I am so happy for that person’s gain, it is wonderful to see good things happen to others, I know how they feel because when “x” happened to me I felt the same way… we should celebrate”
Resentment says “I am so angry at that person, they should rot in hell”
Gratitude says “Lord, they didn’t know any better the same way I haven’t done good things in my own life. Thank you for the humility that comes from Your grace in my life so that I may extend that grace to others.
Judgement says “my spouse doesn’t get it, I am so frustrated having to put up with his/her (fill in the blank)”
Gratitude says “I am so thankful to be married and have someone who knows me and loves me as I work to know and love them. I am so blessed for the things my spouse does such as… (fill in the blank).
Depression says “I don’t have enough, I’m not good enough, others don’t love me enough, there’s no hope, I have no purpose for being alive, what’s the point”
Gratitude says “my cup overflows, I am saved, I am complete in Christ, I was created and now cherished by God, He has great plans for me, for my family, my future. Whatever I am going through it is temporary and in the end God will use it for His glory and my growth”
Philippians 4:4-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Contentment and gratitude does not come natural; in fact the world systems are designed to make us unhappy in all situations so that we will go out and buy what it is they promise to bring us happiness.
Just watch any commercial, that next vacation, new car, nice suit, bigger house, self-help course. Everything is designed around the hunger for increase, yet Paul is telling us here the secret to true inner peace is very specific, we must LEARN contentment in all things first, then we can make our requests known to God.
Desires for increase are not sinful, but to desire increase as the means to our peace and joy is to make the next “thing” our point of worship and not God himself.
What would it look like today to be fully content with what God has provided today? Have you had a meal today, did you sleep in a bed with a blanket and pillow, do you have fresh running water, are you sitting at a computer or have a cell phone or tablet you are reading this on, do you have the freedom to attend the church of your choice without persecution, can you take a shower, are you able to go out the front door, do you have encouraging people in your life, can you drive to a grocery store…
What we focus on grows
If I am looking at the things I don’t have (people, places and/or things) and disappointed in the outcomes of my life then I will continue in the direction of decrease.
If however I am truly experiencing gratitude and contentment in the things I already have, and believe that those things that I still desire are worthy, possible and already mine in Christ (just haven’t received it yet) then they will become my reality.
Lord, you are my strength and redeemer. You gave me life and you give me breath. You have provided for all my needs and I am grateful. So far beyond the tangible gifts of existence, you have given me new life where none existed. Not many years ago I woke each day with dread, driven to gain the acceptance from others, hurting over the lack that I felt was in my life, resentful of the events of my past and feeling shortchanged by an overwhelming sense of entitlement. I now count all that as blessings, for the emptiness and disillusionment in the world led me directly to You Father (although it took 45 years). I no longer see my abusive childhood as a right to victim-hood, but instead it is now a vital part of my song. You make all things new Lord, each day wonderful new opportunities to experience life as You intended is possible. Open my eyes Lord to the divine opportunities to love my family, share the Good News, and rest in Your grace and mercy this day. Thank you Jesus for Your atoning work that makes all of life possible. In Your precious name I pray…