We all go through hard times in our lives but what is your reaction when the heat is turned up? It's the time when the front we put on is stripped away and what is most important to us is exposed. I know that when the heat is turned up in my life, that which is exposed isn't always pretty. I've already said in a previous blog that I'm someone who likes to be in control and when that control is taken away from me I tend to get very stressed out, upset and frustrated. Not particularly attractive characteristics! The thing is, if I totally trusted in God and was completely dependent on him then I should be able to trust that God is the one in complete control.
I was chatting to my Dad last night and he said that how you react to a situation reflects who you are. Now I don't know about you but I definitely don't want stressed out, upset and frustrated to reflect who I am, which means something has to change. I can say I trust God completely until I'm blue in the face but until my reaction and my actions reflect that, my words are pretty hollow.
"May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."
I can honestly say that when the heat is turned up the first thing that goes through my mind, more often than not, is not going to be something that is pleasing in God's sight. Later when I feel guilty about it I very often allow myself to think the words 'but I'm only human', which is just a poor attempt to justify my reaction.
"I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
Paul, the writer of Philipians, is definitely someone who could justifiably have my stressed out, upset, frustrated reaction with some of the circumstances he had to endure. After all, he was 'only human'! Instead he is the one who has 'learned to be content whatever the circumstances'! Paul didn't learn how to do this through his own strength but God's (Phil 4:13). When we learn to lean on God's strength and not our own then we can learn to be content whatever the circumstances.
One of my favourite quotes is 'It's not our circumstances that shape our destiny, it's our response to them that shapes our destiny'. Paul is someone who lived this out. His response towards his circumstance was contentment and that was what shaped his destiny.