Thinking that Ironside had misheard, the student interrupted the prayer and said, “No. No. Not problems. I need patience.”

Ironside began again, “Dear Father, could you send this young man some problems…”

Again, the student assumed that Ironside didn’t hear right. Again, he interrupted the prayer and said, “No. No. Not problems. I want patience.”

Ironside paused, looked at the young man and quoted from James 1  “Don’t you know that troubles and pains are what produce patience?”

No wonder Paul had learned such contentment. Listen to his own words about how he learned patience.

“I’ve been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

Of course we say, “I’ve never had that many problems. Maybe I can’t learn patience.” Of course we can. We all have stories we could tell about the rough and tough times we’ve faced. As Hebrews 12 tells us, if we refuse to get angry at God, or lose heart and quit, or fall into depression, and instead, submit to the will of our Heavenly Father, we will be learning contentment in spades.

Jesus “pouring in the power” doesn’t mean that He will necessarily remove the chains or free us from prison. It means that He will give us the personal power to be content and victorious in whatever troubles life throws our way—whether in jail or out, hungry or well fed, in the hospital bed or out.

Learning to handle difficulties well, while allowing Jesus to pour in the power, is the secret of contentment.

My dad knew what it is like for Jesus to pour in the power. He lived in Christ’s strength for decades. Lymphoma began to slow him down in his 84th year. He knew something was going wrong. He couldn’t walk his usual 18 holes of golf five days a week. He was feeling tired. After some medical tests he got the bad news. Subsequently, the doctors tried several cancer killers but none worked. They turned to an experimental drug. Three months later dad was in his wheel chair and I was with him in his doctor’s office when more bad news came.

“I am sorry to tell you that the experimental drug is not working. We have to stop treatment.”

“OK” said dad. “What are we going to try next?”

“Roger, there is no next,” said the doctor.”

Slowly, the reality sank in.

“Well, doc, what am I supposed to do now?

With a sense of compassion in his voice, dad’s doctor said, “Well, it’s time to just go home and die. I am so sorry.”

“How long do I have?”

“About three months.”

I sat there thinking what it must be like to be given your death sentence?

Dad thanked the doctor and we left the room.

We were passing the nurses station when I heard my father say quietly to himself, under his breath, “Well, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”