A Devotion on Philippians 4:12-13
Becoming Grounded in Gratitude
The time of year we anticipate most is almost upon us - and always seems to last too little. Our Thanksgiving gatherings filled with turkey and family traditions quickly transition into planning for ‘the most wonderful time of the year,’ with Christmas carols, Nativity scenes, and presents under the tree. Then before you know it, the countdown to the new year has begun!
We live in an increasingly fast-paced culture, always eager for what’s next. How often do we miss the blessings of today because we’re living for tomorrow?
Cultivating hearts of thanksgiving takes practice — perhaps now more than ever. Living a life of gratitude in a restless, hurried world requires spiritual discipline, so we must turn our hearts to the Word of God to find contentment and rest for our souls.
In the closing words of his letter to the Church of Philippi, written while he was imprisoned in Rome, the Apostle Paul revealed how he could experience consistent contentment - even in circumstances that are less than ideal:
“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. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)
We simply cannot get there on our own.
When Paul writes about contentment, he isn’t talking only about whether our bodies are nourished or our businesses are flourishing. He’s talking about the state of our souls — the cry of our hearts to be at rest in our Creator, to experience the strength found in the promise and presence of the Holy Spirit.
Living contentedly requires trusting in the sufficiency of Jesus for every season and in every situation.
The only way we will ever find the contentment we so desperately desire is in relationship with, and reliance upon, Christ — the Author and Perfecter of our faith, the very substance of all that we hope for and have yet to see, the One who strengthens us with his everlasting love in every season.
Scripture encourages us not to be anxious for anything, but to pray and rejoice with thanksgiving in “any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” He is there in every moment to reassure and stand guard over our hearts, to give us His peace which transcends all understanding.
Justine’s heart of gratitude despite her circumstances is a living testimony to Philippians 4:13. After losing her parents to war, Justine’s hope dwindled as she watched her siblings struggle to meet the most basic needs.
“We experienced many terrible things — houses looted then torched, people killed, and women and girls raped. We spent many nights in the cold and rain, fearing for our lives.”
Much like Paul during his time in prison, Justine remembers God’s presence even on the bleakest of nights:
“God was always with me and rescued me when I needed Him most. I have so many reasons to praise the Lord. He has transformed my life and shown me the fullness of His love and compassion by bringing me to Exile International.”
As we approach a week designated to express grateful hearts and minds, ask the Holy Spirit to show you all that you have to be profoundly thankful for in this season. Seek His help in cultivating a contented spirit.
Questions to Consider:
- What are the first things that come to mind when someone asks, "What are you thankful for this year?"
- What characteristics or attributes of Christ fill your heart with gratitude?
- How can the gratitude stirring in your heart move you to action? What act of kindness or generosity could overflow from God's unending love?