The Secret to Joy
By Susan Aken
“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.” Philippians 4:12
I’ve never known true hunger, and compared to most of the world have never experienced want of basic needs. It’s easy for me to say I know how to be content and find joy in any and every situation.
I’m writing this devotion in the middle of the Covid19 pandemic, and discontent has come easily to me. I have plenty of food but I long for some of my favorites. I don’t really need anything but I miss shopping, and not being able to go to the hairdresser feels like a big problem. I struggle with discontentment which robs me of joy.
How did Paul, the ancient evangelist who wrote today’s passage, find this place of contentment, and even joy, despite experiencing beatings, imprisonment, hatred, and rejection?
He said, “I have learned” the secret of how to be content in any circumstance. He learned the secret to letting go of striving, grasping, and the crying demands of discontent. The secret to accepting whatever came: sun or storm; fullness or emptiness; nothing or everything.
He told us how in the verse that follows: “I can do all things through Him (Christ) who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).
Paul’s focus was on Jesus not himself. His hope was in Christ not this world. Paul looked forward not behind. As a result, gratitude and praise characterized his life.
In chains and in freedom he praised God.
In weakness and in strength he praised God.
When bruised and beaten or when in comfort he praised God.
Paul viewed this present life of turmoil and pain as nothing compared to the future he had living with a perfect, glorified body of his own, free from sin and death and in the presence of Christ (Romans 8:18; Philippians 3:20-21).
To find this contentment, and fully experience the joy it fuels, we keep our eyes on Jesus and the future we have with Him. We praise Him, worshiping Him in good times and bad. We rely on His strength because we can’t do it on our own.
On his own, Paul was as weak as we are but he depended on Christ. He chose contentment by faith, and found lasting joy. So can we.
Susan Aken is a homemaker, teacher, writer, and Wholly Loved Ministries’ team member, serving as one of their feature and devotional writers. She lives in Nebraska but was born and raised in Oklahoma. She and her husband have one son. Her greatest love is for the Lord Jesus Christ who has redeemed her and set her free. Susan enjoys reading, photography, spending time with family and friends, and writing. She has a heart for prayer ministry and loves her church. Visit her online at susanaken53.wordpress.com.
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