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Earthly Thorns that Trouble Us 6- Weekly Thoughts

Earthly Thorns That Trouble Us
Day 6- Weekly Thoughts
Daniel Petterson

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13, ESV)

When we consider all the thorns we face, the problems and issues, it’s be easy to get down about life. I speak from experience. We might wonder why others don’t have to face the issues we face. Why am I always sick and they’re always well? Why am I struggling to make ends meet and they’re on another vacation? Why, when I am only kind to someone, is my kindness never repaid? Why do I struggle with sin and distraction when they seem to have it all together? Maybe this would be a good time to think about yet another thorn: the thorn of discontent. It’s a thorn that can cloud our judgment and lead to a self-focused life.

We can always find someone who we think is doing better than we are in all these areas. Of course, it doesn’t mean they actually are. We don’t always know the struggles everyone is facing. But if we think carefully, we can probably find someone who is struggling even more than we are in those same areas. But instead of letting our personhood be defined by our circumstances, Paul speaks about our circumstances being defined by our personhood. A person who has nailed the joy of contentment will be a joy to be around no matter their circumstances. Paul said he had figured it out—the secret, as he puts it. And the secret is, I believe, vs. 13. It’s a well-known, often-quoted verse: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

All too often people quote this in terms of the mountaintops they’ve accomplished in life. More power to them! But I think that, in the context of preaching contentment, this verse is better understood in terms of the valleys we’ve come through. We understand our need for His strength and our dependence on Him as we struggle with those irritating thorns. May God give us the strength to focus less on the presence of our own thorns and the absence of other people’s thorns. May we have the strength to be content on the mountain and content in the valley as we reach for the One who gives us the strength to be in both.

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