If you are reading this article, then you have lived long enough to know that life has many twists and turns. Some we plan for, and some just happen unexpectedly. Even within 24 hours in a day, events can change from great to awful and back again. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians that they were to look at his example of living righteously in all situations.
Philippians 4:12-13 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Paul instructed them to rely on God’s strength through Jesus Christ. To be able to meet our every day and occasional challenges, we are to focus on the inner strength we have through the holy spirit. Whatever is needed is available, i.e. wisdom, understanding, peace, strength, patience, and/or loving kindness. In 2014, the stock market was erratic; the weather difficult; work places did not fill vacancies and required employees to take on two and three jobs; and basic cultural values and morals continue to rapidly change. Also, as with the example of Paul, in any and every circumstance we are to have reliance upon God, the Scriptures, and holy spirit to get us through.
Paul mentions “suffering need” in particular as being one of the circumstances that can be dealt with by allowing Christ to empower us. Even Paul, one of the greatest of believers, suffered need and overcame it. He was beaten, had stones hurled at him until he was dead, managed to stay afloat in the sea (which was so tumultuous that the boat he was in sank), and all the while was faithful to allow his purpose not to be aborted and to stay his course. Successfully navigating through the ever present trials and tribulations is accomplished by training ourselves to become masters at applying the Word all the time, in every way, consistently.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
Even the best of Olympic athletes may become seriously injured. Our bodies, no matter how well-toned and exercised, are fragile and can become sick and injured. If our bodies were like a super hero, we would think that we are successful in dark circumstances because of our own strength. God calls our bodies “earthen vessels.” Have you ever dropped a clay pot? Generally it shatters. Even the roots from plants poke through them. God’s sense of humor is that He has placed the “surpassing greatness of the power” that is from God in these fragile and temporary vessels. We cannot boast that we are special by ourselves. When we are in the new man nature and living a holy and righteous life, when troubles come, we are ready. When we are swallowed up by stacks of work tasks, we are ready; when we have grief and loss, we are ready; when we are betrayed by those who are to love us, we are ready AND victorious.
Paul’s example is that he was knowledgeable about the Scriptures. He spoke in tongues. He prayed fervently. He preached the gospel, the mystery, the Kingdom of God, and he was obedient and loving. These all may be accomplished now in our own lives if we make that choice.
Proverbs 24:16 For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.
Having fallen (physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually), we all know it hurts. We may sustain an injury and have to take a long time to heal. But, no matter how many times we are down on the mats, we get up again. This is not because of our own will of strength, but by the strength of God through our Savior.
2 Cor. 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Paul’s exhortation is for us to perfect ourselves in holiness. In doing so, we respect and honor God. This takes effort, discipline, and love on our part. We will stumble and fall, but we get back up and try again.
2 Corinthians 12:1, 3-13 And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain…giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections.
What keeps us back from being servants of God are not the distresses and hardships we face, but our sin and unfaithfulness keep us from holiness. We have to put on the new creation completely. Nothing is to deter us from living out the precepts of the Word in Any and Every circumstance.
In all that 2015 has for us, let us manifest what the prophet Micah declared:
Micah 7:7-8 But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.