The schools called a two-hour delay on the first Monday of the New Year. The condition of my driveway and my icy walk with the dog in early light confirmed the wisdom of their decision, but, even so, it left me feeling out of sorts. Substitute teaching is always a “throw the apples up in the air and see where they land” proposition under the best of circumstances, but a delay after a long break…?
I grumbled to the dog about disruption and he agreed with me that a predictable schedule is best for everyone. Soon, we will have spent one full year in the shadow of COVID-19, trying to wrap our brains around a world in which disruption is the norm.
What do you miss the most?
I’ve heard answers to this question ranging from restaurant meals and movie theatres to air travel and unfettered access to crowds. For me, it’s teaching. I miss my women’s Sunday school class, my 4’s and 5’s, the special events around Christmas and Mother’s Day where I get to open the Bible and give voice to the faith that is in me and trust God to do the rest.
Our Marching Orders
As believers, our right response to disruption, to life under COVID-19, or any other frustration is contentment. It’s implied all over Scripture, but the writer of Hebrews comes right out and says it:
…be content with what you have.”Hebrews 13:5 (ESV)
What we “have” right now is an unpredictable world with restrictions and many disappointments. Can I really be content in a world without teaching opportunities?
Elisabeth Elliot wisdom says, “It’s always possible to do the will of God.”Tweet
According to Scripture, contentment is God’s will for me.
Is it really that simple?
The Promise that Makes It Possible
Paul’s words in Philippians 4:13 likely have found their way onto more coffee cups and couch pillows than just about any other verse in Scripture:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
On the basis of this assurance, a lot of good has been done–and likely a lot of disappointment has been experienced, too, for Paul did not intend this to be an all-purpose promise of competence and success no matter what.
What is God really promising here?
Writing from prison, Paul shared with his readers that God had him enrolled in the University of Contentment in which he was learning, chained between two guards, “in whatever situation I am to be content.” As hard as that might have been, Paul assured his readers (and himself):
I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.”Philippians 4:13 (The Voice)
See how The Voice translation makes the context of Paul’s claim so very clear? (Thanks to Pastor Chris who opens the Word for us every week at Spruce Head Community and introduced me to The Voice.)
Paul was drawing on strength from God to be content in a context that was not his plan, not to his liking, and certainly didn’t seem to make much sense with all Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth needing to be evangelized!
I wonder how many Roman prison guards were converted to Christ because Paul missed teaching but didn’t waste one minute of his confinement?
That’s the strength I want to claim for “any and every situation” in 2021.
Will you join me in praying for this in our lives and our families?
Praying for you in 2021,
I wonder how many Roman prison guards were converted to Christ because Paul missed teaching but didn’t want to waste one minute of his confinement?Tweet
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