How can I learn to be content in both good and bad times?
Continuing for talk about being content in God.
Focus on prayer last week - focus on the Word of God this week
Good Times, Bad Times
Good Times, Bad Times
Again, the first step is to realize that times of suffering are at hand no matter what.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
The Bible is uniform in the experiences of a Christian: we will all in one way or the other suffer - that is just the nature of life.
I know that today most people try to hide that fact by ornamenting their lives especially the way that others view their lives - snapchat, instagram, facebook. We all know that just most of the things they show is just fake - and we even admit it.
That is probably why we are getting so disconnected to each other, because we are lying so much to each other that we cannot blame others when we do not care about other, because they might think everything is fine given their social profiles.
The truth is everyone is struggling. Non-Christians and Christians struggle - and we are all looking for a way out, a way to cope, a way to be content with our circumstances.
This is especially important as Christians because the more we try to live for Christ, we will be persecuted.
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
Paul perfectly describes the current world situation in his letter to Timothy. Suffering is universal, it is pervasive and it is continuous. Therefore, we must wake and understand what is going in our lives, and that the things that happen in our lives are the norm. Paul wanted the people to know that. He wanted people who work together for the Gospel to know about his sufferings and struggles.
will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.
He was glad as it says in our passage that he rejoiced when the people of Philippi started again to worry about him.
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.
Knowing about our life in general and as Christians is the first step to learn to be content in the good and the bad times.
Learn to be content
Learn to be content
Last week, we have already learned a bit how we can learn to be content and to stand firm in Christ. It was through prayer. We mentioned this a bit last week but today we want to elaborate a little bit more on this part so that we can really learn to be content in the Lord and that is we need to learn to be content through the Gospel.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
We see that Paul teaches about how he learned to be content as a Christian and explains in verse 12 what we just have learned - that times are good sometimes and sometimes times are bad but he learned in all circumstances to be content. How?
The main point of our passage lies here: it is through the Gospel
Prayer: we do not know what to pray for - we know that we need to pray but we do not know how prayer has power to keep us strong.
What Paul touched upon, he reveals here fully - the peace of God, the truth of Christ, the Lord being at hand. It is the Gospel
See it is one thing knowing that things will be happening and being content - knowing that things will happen, can help you to cope with the situation better but that will not make you content - which in the Greek can be translated as self-sufficient. Here Paul is definitely not talking about being self-sufficient apart from Christ but autonomous from the things happening around him, therefore having joy - the message of Philippians. Being content means to have joy - and we learned last week that joy is not a spontaneous reaction to nothing but a purposeful response to things happening.
So, in order for us to be content and joyful, we need a reason; we need a reason to pray; we need a reason to persevere - the reason is the Gospel. Paul says that he is being made strong in the Gospel.
Being made strong in the Gospel
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Look closely here at the phrase “have learned the secret” which actually is just one word in the Greek μεμύημαι memuemai which root comes from μυω and shares this with another word - μυστήριον - the mystery. When the Bible talks about the mystery in several occasions we know what God means by them.
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
The mystery of the Gospel is the cross of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Christ Jesus crucified and glorified for our sake. That is why we can learn to be content.
Now, the questions lingers still - HOW can we be content by the fact that Christ has resurrected from the dead that happened 2000 years ago in today’s situation?
Probably, the Psalmist says it the best
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
What is struggle?
What is struggle?
Maybe it is a good time here to stop and talk about what struggle actually is.
Struggles are not:
Not getting into my dream college
Not going to prom
No having a nice house
But struggles are Christians are:
to finish the rest in the midst of temptations
to glorify in this sinful body
We do not define struggle by not having what we want but not having what we need - then we need to discuss what we need.
Based on your definition of your need, your struggles are defined - as a Christian our need is to glorify God. That was Paul’s need.
But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
Necessary for what? To preach the Gospel and to glorify God by bringing others before God!
Knowing that this is his need and knowing that throughout his endeavor to fulfill this necessity sufferings will entail, and knowing that God is with Him, Paul was content!
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
The question is what is your need? Only as your need is to glorify God which should be as Christians, only then can you find rest in Him as well as joy as He will finish the good work in you. You need to learn to be content by learning to trust in Him in your needs for His kingdom aligning your life to Christ because only then we know that an escape of heaven is promised to you!
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Paul in another letter mentions that despite the sufferings he is facings, he is strong because of the mystery is fully revealed to Him, which is Christ.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
It was God working in Him
For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
Therefore, now, no temptation, no suffering, not even death could take away the joy and contentment of Paul
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
One last thing that I want to mention is that in our journey as Christians and learning to be content we must make sure that we learn how we help each other to be content. - so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
We forget too often that as we only look to God, we forget what He is actually provides for us. See, even in expecting help from God, we expect ways that we agree with like God mysterious and supernaturally appearing to us and doing crazy things. But we know that God even though He can work in any way possible, He had decided to work through His church lets each one of us participate in His work of joy and comfort as we are called to comfort each other.
Do not look away. Paul rejoiced GREATLY as the Philippians became aware of the problems that Paul was facing. But look at Paul, too. Paul was not quiet about his needs. See, we are too ashamed with our needs that we do not express them, not to people and not to God. Do not be ashamed, ask for help, ask for comfort, ask for support for that is what the church is called for. But discern first what your problems are. Are you just too obsessed about your life and wants or are your worries focus on the glory of God and what you need to do so?
There will be good times, there will be bad times. But God will be there always with us. He is there, was there in Christ and will be there through the Holy Spirit. Hold on to His promise, hold on to the Gospel, for in it lies the power for us to rejoice and to be content for we see love of God on display in Christ Jesus on the cross. What is there to fear knowing that the Creator of all things loves us and cares for us?
Also knowing that everything is in the plan of God, trusting that it is, we have all reasons to be content no matter what the circumstance.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
So, put your trust in God, go into the Gospel, the mystery that is revealed to you and rejoice. Be content.