by Barbara Latter
I’ll be honest. One day it really got to me: Cabin fever. Empty grocery shelves. Worsening COVID-19 news. Wrangling politicians. I allowed myself to give in to frustration, fear, anxiety and feelings of isolation. Seeking to free myself from these emotions, I opened God’s Word to a familiar text in Paul’s letter to the Philippians:
“And my God will meet all your needs
according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19 (NIV)
I felt prompted to read through the entire fourth chapter of Philippians. In this short chapter, which is basically Paul’s “thank you note” for the offering he had received from the church at Philippi, he gives us several gold nuggets of help and encouragement for trying times.
In verse 4 he tells us:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
That he says to rejoice twice is significant. Giving praise to God in difficult or unpleasant circumstances does not come naturally or easily to us. It requires an act of our will —determining that whatever is happening
us will not be mirrored
us. Surely, if Paul, a suffering prisoner in Rome, can demonstrate this perspective with the help of the Holy Spirit, you and I can as well.
In verses 10-14, Paul twice uses the word “content.” Throughout his many significant trials, he has learned to be satisfied. Whether he was hungry or fed, experiencing plenty, or facing deficiency and even death, he learned the joy of praising and being thankful for what he did have. The “secret” to this lesson is summed up in verse 13:
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”(v.13)
When we lean in towards God, when we trust in His provision and abide in His power, He is able to remove the desire to always want more. This super-human power is not given to us to perform outstanding deeds born of our own will. It’s given to us to live and work for Him as we yield to His will.
Even as Paul offers these words of encouragement he also speaks to the act of giving. In verses 15-18, he notes the Philippian church was the only ones that had reached out to his need by giving generously to him. He describes their offering as “
an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.”
It was not the money to which he was referring, as grateful as he was to receive it, it was their spirit and the way they showed their love for him. It seems we are bombarded almost daily with requests to give to some cause or other. In deciding where to give of our time and treasure, we should prayerfully consider how our gifts may be used to honor God and direct them to those purposes.
That leads us back again to verse 19 as Paul reminds them and us that our needs – our real needs, not our wants -- are always met through the “…
glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
These glorious riches in Christ include all we need. All we need now for this life on earth and in the everlasting life in His presence.
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