If you have grown up in the church, you are likely very familiar with the words found in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” However, it is the verses surrounding verse 13 that capture my attention in Philippians 4:11-12:
11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 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.”
Paul is speaking here, a man who was thrown into jail because his adversaries claimed he was practicing customs that were throwing the town’s people into an uproar. In Acts 16:25, it says that despite being in chains, Paul began worshipping the Lord.
If I begin to picture what my demeanor would be if I were to be thrown into jail, singing is not what first pops into my head. When I am struggling to be grateful, I often have to remind myself that I am among the world’s wealthiest simply because I have shoes on my feet, a roof over my head, and food in my stomach. I have access to clean drinking water, medical care, and education. I may not live in a grand mansion, but some are living in huts with dirt floors.
It’s all about perspective, and thanking God for the blessings He has lavished upon our undeserving selves.
Challenging circumstances have come and some have gone as of late. Currently, I would say I am in a pretty good season, but rewind a few months ago back to December (2016) and you’d have found me humming a different tune. Since December 2015, my husband and I became parents for the first time, lost 5 relatives, dealt with a lengthy medical appeal process so as not to pay thousands more than we owed, a family member had a serious heart procedure, my husband began pursuing a field of work that makes this wife a little nervous, we had ongoing car trouble, things at my workplace shifted yet again, my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, and a cyst was found on my one remaining ovary that may need to be removed given my health history.
This past December-March were especially hard months for our young family. We experienced a lot of loss, a lot of grief, a lot of change, and a lot of unrest. We still have many loose ends and a few unanswered questions, but even in the storm, God was and is with us. He may have felt distant, but He was there, promising to never leave us nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8).
I chose a starry night sky for my featured image of this post because every time I look up at a starry sky, I feel so small and yet so cared for. The creator of the universe placed those beautiful shining lights in the sky for you and for me. They tell of His wonder, His majesty, and His presence with us, no matter how small we may feel.
The Lord carried us through this difficult time and He rescued me yet again, from the pit. If this is you as well, if you are going through the storms or valleys of life right now, I want to encourage your heart. I want to remind you that your God has not left you. He is faithful and He is still with you, whatever your circumstance.
I will leave you with my favorite Psalm, one which has reigned true in my life and that I have turned to time and time again:
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone;
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is
with those who fear him, and his righteousness
with their children’s children-
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.