11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I 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. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
He began by asking "are we truly thankful?" If we are content, then, yes indeed we are thankful. But if we are not content in the situation that God has placed us in, how can we be thankful? Paul calls us to be content "in any and every situation" - and if anyone has any 'right' to think otherwise, wouldn't it be the guy who has gone from being the persecutor, to being the persecuted, being whipped, beaten, shipwrecked and imprisoned, all for the same Gospel he once tried to defend by persecuting those who followed Jesus. God sure has an interesting way of turning things around.
Rev. Van Olst shared 5 points of how we can be content:
- Don't complain about anything, not even the weather.
- Don't picture yourself in any circumstances in which you are not (stop daydreaming).
- Don't compare your life to others.
- Don't dwell on the past.
- Don't worry about tomorrow.
So, I don't know about you, but I'm guilty of all 5 of these - on a daily basis.
I would say the one I struggle with the least would be #1, only because I worked with chronic complainers for so long that I've tried so hard to do the complete opposite, but I still often find something to complain about. I often wish I could go back to the young girl I was, if people only knew me then they would see a big difference. I strive to be that joyful, glass-half full girl again, but life has a way of knocking you down more as an adult.
#2 and #3 go hand in hand for me, because I'm witnessing so many friends get married and have children that it's really hard for me to not either dream about how I would do it if I were in their shoes (the dress, the location, all the little details or dreaming about my future home and how I would set it up and get it ready for the little one...). I often find I'm comparing my life and then lamenting, or, going back to #1 and complaining - why is it not my turn? Why do these 19 year olds get married and I haven't had a date in 3 years?
#4 is another big one for me, it's easy to dwell on "the way things were" or "if only..." scenarios. In the words of someone who showed up from my past yesterday "you need to get over it!", at least this time she wasn't talking to me, or at least she didn't think she was. This acquaintance was relating a story that indirectly involved me and she was telling someone else that they needed to get over something, and it was a bit of a slap across the face, that I need to get over it too. Also, sometimes we have a tendency to hold on to past injuries or hurts as some kind of perverse security blanket. God wants us to experience freedom from those hurts and he doesn't desire that we carry them through our lives as big chips on our shoulders, so that's another one I struggle with.
Finally, #5 had quite the literal application today. Tomorrow in the very real sense, as in the day after today (not just some ambiguous day in the future) is going to be a big day for me - it's my first at my new job. I need to trust that God has brought me to where I am for "such a time as this" and be confident in that.
One thing is for sure this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful I went to church!