"Be joyful always; pray continually;give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18
"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 everything through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4: 11b - 13
I have SO much to be thankful for. Truly, my life is good. I adore my precious husband and cherish our relationship. I have four beautiful, healthy, smart, and (relatively) well-behaved children (uh, hem...at least two or three of them are :o) ) I have the privilege of being a full-time keeper of our home and our children. My husband has a good job with a good income. We live in a beautiful home with way more than enough room for all six of us. I love my extended family, and we all get along well and enjoy each other's company (Cowboy fans included...I guess :o) ) I was told about Jesus as a young child and have been blessed with His salvation, grace, and mercy for the majority of my life. I live in a country where I have the freedom to live out my faith.
Thank you, Lord, for all of these blessings!
But, what if my life wasn't so "good"? What if I lost one of those I hold most dear to my heart? What if one of us were terminally ill? What if I didn't have my "dream home" or even anything close to it? What if my children were rebellious? What if my husband was a jerk, and I despised the sight of him? What if I didn't know where we'd get the money to pay our next mortgage bill, hospital bill, electric bill? What if I lived in a country where I could be brutally persecuted for my faith?
Would I still be giving thanks??? Would I still be content???
I've been thinking about that quite a bit lately. Knowing myself, I ashamedly admit that I'm sure I wouldn't be a natural master in the thanks and contentment "in all circumstances" category.
God didn't give us two separate "manuals" -- one for when things are going "well" and another for when we are living through a trial. His Word is the same for each and every one of us -- yesterday, today, and forever, no matter what circumstance we find ourselves in. I have the same instruction (and responsibility) (and promises!) from the Lord whether I am rich or poor, healthy or sick, happy or hurting, free or in prison chains, in America or in Africa.
As I've been pondering these things, I started reading the book The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of the Chinese Christian Brother Yun, and then I saw the following video posted on several of my favorite blogs. Both of these are humbling and challenging examples of people living out the Lord's instruction to be "joyful always" and "content" in circumstances unimaginable to any American.