One of the most beloved texts in the Bible is found in Philippians. It reads, “Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4: 11-13 We are all familiar with and love the truth of the statement that, “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me,” but notice that trust is a learned process.
Paul says, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” He also writes, “I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want.” It is through the rough spots in our life that we learn to trust in God. The only reason that we can do everything through God is because He strengthens us through our trials. None of us in life are static; we are either growing towards God or away from God. Unfortunately, for many people, when problems come they have no deep roots in their trust in God and as a result they move away from God believing the problem is bigger than them. But Paul says to the Philippians that in both good and bad circumstances he has learned the grace of God for his journey.
When hard times come can you say you are content? I would love to say I am, but I know how fragile I am and how easy I turn to my own strength to try and deal with the problem. It’s easy to be full of faith and trust in God when everything goes well, but as soon as things turn south we push the panic button and start running ahead of God trying to find solutions. That is when we get into trouble. Probably one of the hardest things to do is to wait on God to lead us when we feel that we are overwhelmed.
The question is how did Paul learn to trust God in every situation? The answer is found in verses four through six. “ Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Paul rejoiced in the Lord and that became the motivation for his personal journey. When you love someone as much as Paul loved God, the hard times are not a deterrent to that love and trust. Paul also understood that his problems were God’s problems and as a result, he took his needs and pain to God through prayer and supplication. He reminds us that with thanksgiving we should let God know our requests.
You may feel that God is a long ways away from you and that He isn’t interested in your needs or He’s too busy to pay attention to our supplications. But the reality is, He is interested and is there to help whenever we call out to Him. It is God who strengthens us and gives us the grace to handle the problems that come our way. God’s love is never conditional, it is a free gift and just like Paul we learn to trust in that gift, not only in good times, but also through adversity.