Circumstances change. Situations are not always the same. There are moments in life when you may be “on top of the world.” There are also moments when you are at your lowest point. But in any circumstance, in any situation, at any point in life, you can be content. It does not matter where you are at or who you are with or your circumstances. Paul said that he was content in any situation.
I know people who are never happy. They can only list the negatives in their life, yet if I examine their situation I find many blessings I could list. For some reason or another, some people feel dissatisfied, unhappy, broken, or lacking. For me it is hard to understand. I have grown to understand this same contentment as Paul mentions. Life is really different when you can be content in all situations.
Today I challenge you to look around and thank God for your blessings. Did you have at least one meal today? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have a job? Do you have family? Think of what you have—look at the blessings around you. When you focus on them and thank God for them, you aren’t living with your eyes fixed on your lack. If you can look at the situations that come your way in a positive light, you’ll discover this contentment that is only possible through Christ.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” – Philippians 4:12 [NIV]
Giving Max a bath can be quite the ordeal. Since he’s a larger dog, it’s not so easy to get him into the bath tub. Plus he is not fond of getting a bath and I am not fond of cleaning all of the hair out of the tub when he finally decides to comply with his mom’s request. Every so often I take him to the dog wash, which is a dog bath at the local car wash.
Max never wants to go up the ramp to the bathing area. Although it is the good path to take, he does not want what will follow. He loves to be clean. He loves to have his hair blown dry. But he detests the bath itself. When the bath is over, I have to stand beside him when he gets put back on his leash for he wants to hop out of the bathing area rather than taking the ramp down to the ground. Today I got soaked because he rammed into me as I blocked the dangerous attempt
Many times God will try to lead us down a particular path in life. Sometimes it does not appear so great and sometimes the path brings about trials and obstacles we do not desire. However, God has a perfect plan and His direction will help us to get to where we are meant to be in life. There are moments when He opens doors for us to enter but we hesitate because we fear, we doubt, or we think we know better. There are also moments when we try to go another way, a way that might lead toward something not in our best interest. At times He will block it to keep us safe and at times He will allow us to take the other way to help us to grow closer to Him. It is as if He says, “You want it. Okay, I’ll give it to you.” Oh the lessons He has taught me by giving me what I wanted. I soon realized I no longer wanted what I wanted—I wanted instead what He wanted. Today, if God is leading you down a particular path, if God has opened a door for you to enter, I pray you have the trust to follow. Following His direction is always the best way.
“Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.” – Hosea 2:6-8 [NIV]
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” – Psalm 16:11 [NLT]
With our human eyes, we see what is there and we consider that to be our resources. When I look into my refrigerator and see a gallon of iced tea, I understand that is all I have. At the same time, I know I have the money to get more tea so it does not worry me. There are moments though when we do not have the resources in our hands or in our bank accounts. There is nothing there to bring about a certain something in our lives. We do not have enough we then say.
It could be the funds necessary to put down a security deposit and first month’s rent to move into a new place because you have to move. It could be money that is needed to evaluate your car after the “check engine” light shined bright. It could be new shoes for your children because they have outgrown yet another pair. Whatever it is, you find yourself saying, “There’s not nearly enough.”
This servant looked around at the people and then he looked at the available resources. There’s not enough. There’s not enough. The servant said there wasn’t enough. But Elisha responded, “God says there’s plenty.” God says there’s plenty. Do you think God forgot about you? Do you think that when you need something, it won’t be there? God says there’s plenty. When the need truly arises, the need is met. God says there’s plenty. Trust it will come and it will be enough.
“His servant said, ‘For a hundred men? There’s not nearly enough!’
Elisha said, ‘Just go ahead and do it. God says there’s plenty.’”
-2 Kings 4:43-44 [MSG]
Have you ever begged for something? Perhaps when you were a child, you begged your parents for a trending toy. When you neared driving age, you begged to learn how to drive and then when you passed your test, you begged to borrow the family car. Have you ever begged God for something?
Some people beg God for selfish requests. We do not always see it as such, but when things are uncovered, it is very self-centered. We also beg for particular things like healing because we do not see God’s bigger plan. I know I’ve begged for my pain to go away, and yet my pain has taught me patience and humility. I am all the better because of my pain.
In today’s verse, we read that Jehoshaphat was terrified knowing that there was a large group approaching via the sea. He was afraid and he immediately turned his attention to God. He begged Him for guidance. Have you ever begged God for guidance? Have you ever wanted His guidance that bad? Have you ever approached Him with that humility?
“Jehoshaphat was terrified by this news and begged the LORD for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting.” – 2 Chronicles 20:3 [NLT]
The Israelites were in the desert hungry and God promised to rain down bread from heaven. The Lord provided for the Israelites and they called this manna. As time progressed, they were tired of the manna. It still was suitable for food. It still could satisfy their hunger needs. The problem was they wanted something else—the manna was no longer enough for them in their eyes.
The people went as far as to say “we hate this horrible manna.” The horrible manna fed them; Exodus 16 says the Israelites ate it for forty years. But the people wanted more and they were no longer so thankful for the provisions of the Lord. Perhaps God provided, but they had something different in mind.
We also receive provisions but do not always respond with a thankful heart. There are moments in life when we only have canned pasta to eat. We would rather have steak. Our expectations are different. Today be thankful for all of God’s provisions, not simply the ones that delight us the most.
“And they began to speak against God and Moses. ‘Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?’ they complained. ‘There is nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this horrible manna!’” – Numbers 21:5 [NLT]
When the Israelites were in the wilderness, there came a time when they wanted some meat. The Bible says that the people who were with them traveling “began to crave the good things of Egypt” and they joined in with this desire. They were slaves in Egypt. They were treated harshly in Egypt. Yet they shifted their focus from what they now had to what they lacked.
When you focus on what you do not have, you will find that you act very differently than you would with your focus aligned on God and His blessings. These “good things of Egypt” included nice food, but it also came with poor treatment in slavery. It also included living in a sinful area surrounded by people who did not follow God. The Israelites focused on what they lost—the little good that they had in Egypt—instead of looking at what they now had thanks to God.
We do this as well. Next time you find yourself complaining—next time you are grumbling in the wilderness—shift your focus. Remember what you have thanks to God.
“Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed.” – Numbers 11:4 [NLT]