Wednesday, September 07, 2016

"A Little-Known (or Appreciated) Secret"

Philippians 4.19 NASU

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

This is a wonderful (sounding) promise, but what does it mean? What exactly is being offered? What are the “needs” Paul promised his God would supply?

The Easy Life?

Has the Lord promised the easy life? A life of comfort in the Paradise of Eden where all my needs (and a whole lot more) are always and fully met with no effort or exertion from me? A life without work, rules, sin, or death, and days filled with fun and unfettered freedom? No misunderstandings, no disease, no pain? Is this the kind of life God promised me? Of course not. Utopia existed on earth for a brief historical moment... then Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.

A Life of Relative Ease?

Do I deserve the blessings I have learned to enjoy? Wonderful children, a strong income, an expensive house, a 401K, two nice cars, a couple dogs, and a piano? I’m not sure. I worked hard for all this stuff and I routinely (and sincerely) thank God for my station in life. But do I need what I have? Probably not. I find it difficult to believe that maintaining my ‘life of relative ease’ is what Paul meant when he promised God would “supply all [my] needs”. Truthfully, my “needs” are way more than met.

The Stripped Down Version of the Good Life?

What if it was just me, God and the bare essentials?
  • Enough food (but no salt or dessert)
  • Water (but no soda, beer, coffee, or Gatorade)
  • A bed (to sleep on)
  • A roof (to sleep under)
  • That’s it! Nothing more!
No family, no vacations, no television, no toys, no extras. Would I be content with only my basic needs? Would I acknowledge that God had supplied all my needs “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesusor would I begrudge the absence of the good life? I think I know the answer.

Real Suffering?

What if some of the absolute essentials were taken away from me for even a day or two and I was forced to go without a meal, sleep in the street, or endure physical abuse? Could God possibly be credited for anything good at all in a situation like that? Paul lived that way and yet still claimed, “I have learned to be content” (Philippians 4.11). Would I be as accepting and content?

Nothing Left?

What if God took it all away and even survival was not an option? I watched my wife slip into the hereafter on her ambulance gurney one year ago on August 30th, 2015. Her short 50 years vanished in the time it took to exhale one last breath. Can I say that God did not supply my dear Adonica’s needs in her final moment on earth?

I have no idea what my needs are. Thankfully, God does and I can trust Him to “supply [them] according to His riches [plan, way, timing, and purpose].” I am still having a very hard time without the love of my life. She was everything to me, and now she’s gone. It hurts, bad. Someday, I hope to return to the land of the living. I hope to discover the little secret Paul learned while in prison at Philippi... 

“…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 NASU

Paul’s secret was not about how to achieve success, survive loss, or endure suffering. His secret was about learning to be content in any and every circumstance. I desperately need God’s grace to learn that little secret.   

_______________________

The exceptional drawings above are used by permission of Ben Heine, a political cartoonist from Brussels, Belgium. The cartoon "Money Rules Man" reminds me of the futility of a life without contentment. "The Poorest of the Poor" illustration inspires me with compassion and hope. You may see Ben Heine's photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/benheine/.

2 comments:

One Sided said...

It was almost 11 years ago, in my third bout of unemployment. When I looked at my loving wife and told her we needed to pick out an overpass she liked. Savings was gone. We had even gone though our retirement funds. Unemployment was not meeting any of our deeds and it was running out.
We were already use to turning it over to God and watching him provide. But we figured there was a lesson for the learning in the experience. It was not until we came to the point of being able to give up ALL material things. ( Funny how we hang onto things ) It was not until we were willing to part with it all and we were still praising God, that Satan let go. But now ALL I have is at God's disposal, I am careful to place no value past thanks to God on what he provides. MY car is his gift. It is a wonderful story. My house is his gift , another wonderfule story, My employment is a gift from God, whch he has allowd me to use time and time again to assist fellow believers in need. I am a slow learner, but I also have learned the secret.

One Sided said...

It was almost 11 years ago, in my third bout of unemployment. When I looked at my loving wife and told her we needed to pick out an overpass she liked. Savings was gone. We had even gone though our retirement funds. Unemployment was not meeting any of our deeds and it was running out.
We were already use to turning it over to God and watching him provide. But we figured there was a lesson for the learning in the experience. It was not until we came to the point of being able to give up ALL material things. ( Funny how we hang onto things ) It was not until we were willing to part with it all and we were still praising God, that Satan let go. But now ALL I have is at God's disposal, I am careful to place no value past thanks to God on what he provides. MY car is his gift. It is a wonderful story. My house is his gift , another wonderfule story, My employment is a gift from God, whch he has allowd me to use time and time again to assist fellow believers in need. I am a slow learner, but I also have learned the secret.