“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)
How often have you heard this verse used? I know I have particularly found it’s popularity in the world of sports. Teams and individual athletes use this verse as a form of empowerment. A simple prayer with this verse seems to be what will, in their eyes, win them their game. However, this verse isn’t intended for that message. Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians while he was in jail. He wrote that he was content when he was in need and when he was in plenty and the secret to this was through Christ’s strength. This popular verse isn’t about winning the next game or acing your next exam, it is about being content no matter what the circumstances.
This semester, both my student teaching semester and my final semester as a college student, has proven to be one of the most exhausting few months of my life, phyisically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. This verse was brought into my life while I was preparing a lesson for my small group. I always find it humorus when God teaches you a lesson while you are planning to teach a lesson yourself. It is those times that we expect to learn the least, but end up learning the most. I was struggling through my first month of student teaching. The drive was an hour long one way and the teacher didn’t seem to have anything positive to say about my teaching. Going through that many emotions five days a week began to take effect on my positive outlook. As the weeks unfolded it became harder and harder for me to find joy in my life. I was reading my bible, going to church, meeting with a solid group of Christian women who are extremely encouraging, but I wasn’t joyful at all. It seemed that no matter what I was doing to try to turn things around for the better things would end up right back where they were. I once heard someone say that “Joy is something we choose and then work for everyday” but that didn’t seem posisble to me when life was saying just the opposite.
I realized after some hard thought and prayer that my heart was not into finding joy in my life. Through this lesson and after an amazing weekend away with my church at our annual fall getaway God revealed to me the joy that I was missing. I had built up walls in my life preventing any form of emotional response so that I couldn’t be hurt when negative things came my way. However, I am now able to see that I, like Paul, can find contentment in all situations. I was taking advantage of the good things that happend both last semester and over the summer and when things did not go the way I planned I let my vision get clouded. I took advantage of the good times and got frustrated and grumpy in the bad. Contentment isn’t just when things go the way we want, it’s when things are going good and when things are falling apart. I know I personally take advantage of the times that make me happy and don’t give God enough credit.
We expect life circumstances to reach a certain level before we can recognize happiness. If, in the midst of all the challanges, we cannot learn to make the most of the situation in which we find ourselves, we will never find contentment. Perfect peace comes not from the absence of bad circumstances but the reassuring presence of God despite the circumstances.
God made today for a reason, so take joy in today.
This picture is of my favorite place in Bowling Green. God has used this spot to heal my heart and bring peace to my life. I encourage you to simply “be still” and let God surround you with unending joy and love.