"I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength" (Philippians 4:13).

What Is God Really Promising Here?

Sunday Scripture

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.”
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)
"I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength" (Philippians 4:13).

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?

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60 thoughts on “What Is God Really Promising Here?”

  1. It stops me dead in my tracks each time I remind myself where Paul wrote those verses from. If this pandemic is teaching me anything, contentment has been high on the lessons being taught. Since being able to go less places, do less things, be in the company of less people – I am finding more contentment in Christ. Less of everything else leaves more room for Him! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This really resonated with me this morning. Thank you, Michele, for this great admonition to make the best use of our time, whether in confinement or just waiting for the next thing to happen…make every moment count for Jesus! That is why I am so thankful for this blessing of blogging…it gives us a voice and a window into the world where we can share God’s love and joy with people who may be hurting or just in need of some encouragement. Thank you for your faithfulness to God’s Word and His children. Have a blessed Sunday.

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  3. Michele,
    Contentment was my word for 2020. I’m afraid all it showed me was how discontent I was with life. But God. Had this not been my focus I may have missed His point altogether.
    Thank you for recapping this for me once again. I think may be the word for my life, not just one year.
    I listened to a message by John Piper where he expounded on Paul having “found the secret” of contentment. I encourage you to look it up.
    Blessings to you and yours in 2021! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve also wondered how many letters of Paul we would have today if he had not been imprisoned? Millions, perhaps billions of people over the centuries have benefited from those seven letters written while he was under arrest in Rome. And their evangelistic truth has undoubtedly brought many to faith in Christ. From Paul’s experience and that of others we learn that even in dire circumstances, God can and does still use us, as we remain faithful to him. That knowledge can contribute to our contentment. I too am thankful for your reminder, Michele!

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  5. I can sympathize with you missing teaching. I miss it too. Even though it’s not the same as seeing a child’s face light up with understanding, you are teaching us every week right here in this space.

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  6. It is very easy to get grumbly as we miss the life we had before Covid.Truth is, we are very much like the children of Israel in Moses day, aren’t we?

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  7. For all of us with restless spirits and unfulfilled longings in these days, the words of Paul ring true and strong, reminding us of God’s omnipresence. Yes, because of Jesus, we can be content in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
    Blessings, Michele!

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  8. What I’ve missed most is going to the library. Visiting the library is like going to a candy store for me! Just discovering new titles is like being on a treasure hunt. But the silver lining has been that I’ve read many books I already have and have gleaned much knowledge, encouragement, and wisdom from some of them. Always appreciate your reviews here, Michele.Thanks for pointing us to truth. One of those you have featured right now is a title I have on my wish list: Hearts on Pilgrimage: Poems & Prayers by Jody L. Collins. Such a beautiful cover!

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  9. As I’ve always been a loner, I didn’t think alone would bother me. But, it has. I miss the hugs, my kids being able to comfortably visit; especially the one out of state, lunches with my sisters, etc. However, it as been time for much reflection with God. Some mirror images not so good, but has taught me some things too. Will be glad to have this pandemic over and done with, and it becomes no different than the normal flu season. Blessings for continued good health to you and yours.

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  10. “…and certainly did seem not make much sense…” I can sure get caught up in the stress of trying to figure things out when God’s pointed the way to contentment! Thank you for sharing Paul’s teaching today.

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  11. hm…not sure which state your hail from but here in NYS, I’m still teaching!! in person!! Since July!! (6 weeks of summer school and our regular school calendar, Sept through mid June). Special Ed PreK for a private preK agency serving special needs kids and their families. Of course we’re wearing masks and following ALL the NYS health dept guidelines. And I’m still teaching my small group via church here in my home, Every other week. only 5 of us due to my family room being small and we want to socially distance. If anyone has symptoms they simply need a covid test be negative or they stay home until symptom free.

    But…contentment. Yes…..I am still learning to be content in this new normal…..content to watch arts events online, content to sometimes do church online vs in person although our church has been open now since mid Sept with limited numbers and mask wearing. we even had Xmas eve services!! I truly couldn’t get through this life though without the strength of my Savior Redeemer!!

    great post with much to chew on!!

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    1. I’m so glad to hear about “Normalcy” in your life. My specific lack is not in a school classroom, but rather in churches and places where women gather over Truth. I so MISS opening the word of God with them.
      And I am grateful to be able to help out in the public schools by subbing. I honor you teachers who show up every single day to work with our kids.

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  12. Amen Michele, “I wonder how many Roman prison guards were converted to Christ because Paul missed teaching but didn’t waste one minute of his confinement?” I love this, probably many have been converted. I agree with you and your dog predictable schedule is best for everyone. Thank you for this blessed post.
    Visiting today from Inspire Me Monday#5

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  13. Covid has been a challenge but as with all challenges, much has been learned. My husband was able to get the first dose of the Moderna vaccine recently and I am so grateful fr that. One has to be older than 70 to get it where I live, so I have to wait longer. Prayer helps keep me sane in times of worry and sadness…it is a gift to have faith!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Choosing contentment sounds easy, but is it really? Anytime I am wondering how to live my life or face challenges, I need only refer to Paul, who shows us what to do time and time again. And he makes it look easy. Paul’s contentment was a natural offshoot of who he was and how he knew Jesus was calling him to live his life.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you, this is a great reminder that Jesus makes it possible for us to be content whatever our circumstances. As our lockdown has just been extended until the middle of February, it is a challenge to be content at the moment so this is a great encouragement.

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  16. I have been focusing a lot on contentment this year and teaching my boys to just live in the moment. Really it’s all we can do!

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  17. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

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  18. I do not wish for happiness for my children. I pray for contentedness. Life can be hard and we need to appreciate the things we have. Thanks for linking up with #mischiefandmemories

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  19. I know it must have been bad if schools delayed where you are, Michele. You couldn’t imagine why we have school delays down here: just talk about the potential of really cold weather (snow or not) and schools will delay a couple hours. 😉 Love this post. Through Christ we can be content even in the midst of a pandemic. I’m still working on it, but I love knowing it’s a possibility that I don’t have to prove on my own, but can accept through faith.

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    1. Yes, EVEN in pandemic!
      And I remember being on the road with southern drivers on the rare occasions that it snowed in Georgia. I think it happened once when I was in college there…
      Not fun!

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  20. Can it really be almost a whole year since lockdown… it feels very surreal. We somehow slip off into new routines and take so much comfort from being present in the ‘now’ that pre covid seems such a distant memory. Disruption isn’t fun, but somehow, everything turns out just fine. Thank you for joining us for #MischiefandMemories

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  21. Thanks for these thoughts and Scriptures, Michele. It seems like I have so much uncertainty in my life right now, time to practice what I preach. Being content and satisfied in the Lord and circumstances. We will feature your post in the next Blogger’s Pit Stop.

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  22. I’m afraid the only thing that is predictable during a pandemic is that schedules will change over night. In the UK, the children went back to school after the Christmas holidays for 1 day before schools closed again. Thank you for linking with #PoCoLo sorry I’m late with commenting will catch up before the next post later this week.

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