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June 25, 2015

Text: “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 having learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”  Philippians 4:11-12

Life deals us all sorts of situations, both good and bad. Some occurrences are severe, others are blessings. When the situation is stressful, difficult, or threatening we tend to get out of sorts, resentful, and complaining. In 1973 Lynn Anderson sang, “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.” Most folk sympathized with that sentiment.

The apostle Paul suffered more than his share. Read II Corinthians 6:3-10 and see the litany of some of Paul’s hardships. His difficulties are also revealed in other places in his epistles. But Paul was not a complainer; he could not be labeled a “crybaby”. Being beset with all these oppressions, Paul stayed true to his mission. (It could be that these difficulties originated to the undertaking of being the evangelist and missionary that he was!) The apostle seems to rebound from all that was thrust upon him. See the text at the head of the page and notice that Paul says, “I have learned in whatsoever situation I am to  be content.” God did not gift Paul with that knowledge. He did not find out about it in some therapy group. My guess is that he actually learned trust in God. It  would behoove us to learn trust in God. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”  Psalms 28:7

The first thing that we need to remember is: “It is what it is”.  That is to say, there are circumstances in life which are inevitable, no one can change them. It may be the problem of warfare in our world, or the uncertainty of turmoil in our nation’s economy, or calamites like earthquakes, floods, and disease. Such troubles do not come to all, but we should prepare to be able to stand up to them if they do. Learn to hold up under tragic circumstances. Hold up under such buffets with your own fortitude! This too shall pass.

“God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”  The Serenity Prayer

Naturally, there are things we are unable to change. We are neither big enough nor strong enough to contest  them. Such situations call for God’s assistance. He has power and comfort for us. He listens to our prayers. He considers our oppressions. He answers our prayers and provides relief for us. Here’s one: “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalms 9:9  Realize when your troubles are crushing you and you are losing your will to resist. Pray to God to  deliver you, and he will. King David wrote, “I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalms 34:4

It any man had more oppressions than Paul it would be Jesus.  Jesus wants you to unburden yourself in him. He has comfort and consolation for you. You would be totally wrong to forsake him and try to row your own boat. He does not want you to “go it alone.”  He said, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly  in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“I think our problem is primarily a spiritual one…where there is no Jesus, evil always reigns.”  Phil Robertson (Duck Dynasty)





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