In Paul's letter to the Philippians he instructed them as to where to find the power to face and deal with life successfully (Philippians 4:11-13). The lesson within that text is equally important for us today.
Most everyone experiences periods of time when things seem to go pretty well. But in almost every case, sooner or later, things change! Life is always in motion. All sorts of forces affect our lives. Illness, injury, emotional stress, psychological disorders, financial problems, loss of a job, the death of a loved one, and a host of other developments can, all of a sudden, turn our lives upside down. In addition to all the rest, simply getting older can also take its toll.
Many people turn to doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other types of counselors for guidance to cope with what life has thrown at them. Others try to escape through alcohol and the illicit use of drugs, which ultimately worsens their problems. But Paul enlightens us that our greatest power to succeed, to cope, to effectively deal with the challenges of life is the power found in a right relationship with God through Christ.
First, Paul states, "...for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content" (verse 11). We tend to think that if we could only lay our hands on more money we could solve most of our problems. But money, and the things money can buy, are not the source of real fulfillment, satisfaction, or lasting happiness. Jesus said, "...one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses" (Luke 12:15). The Hebrews writer encourages us to "be content with such things as you have" and then reminds us that, as long as we don't walk away from Him, God will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6). A mindset of contentment is key to dealing successfully with life's challenges.
Second, Paul notes that he knows how to live when things are going great and when things are not so great (verse 12). Our life fluctuates continually as time passes. To deal with the constant changes we need to learn to keep focus on the most important side of life - our spiritual life! Paul did not write on this matter from a theoretical perspective. He had a great deal of first hand experience with the down side of life (1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 11:23-33). If we can keep in mind that this life, with all of its difficulties, is only temporary and our ultimate goal is eternal lilfe in Heaven, then we can realize that the problems of this life are also only temporary.
Finally, Paul emphasizes that the power to face and deal with life successfully is not within ourselves (verse 13). If we look only within, only to our own inherent abilities, we will surely come up short. Our "sufficiency" to effectively face life is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5). We access God's power through our Lord Jesus Christ. Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). But through faith in Him we can overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5)!
Where are you? By whose power are you trying to face the difficulties and challenges of life? Are you ready to be victorious through Christ (1 Corinthians 15:56-57)? Come to Him, and find the power to face life...
Gary L. Hutchens