Yesterday we focused on Christian contentment as something we all must learn. Paul elaborates by saying that his life—like most people’s lives—has had its share of ups and downs. He has had times of plenty, dining on fine food and sleeping in a warm bed. And he has had times of great want, going to sleep hungry and without having a bed at all or even a blanket to keep him warm and dry.
“This has been my school of contentment,” Paul says, in effect. One learns to be content in good times without forgetting that they are a gift from God, and one learns to be content in bad times without forgetting that the Lord is still with you.
But here’s the real secret: our strength is not our own. Paul says he can do all this through the one who strengthens him.
Note that this means not only being content when times are tough, but also being grateful when times are good. Both require a kind of strength, and this comes from Christ alone. This is the message woven throughout this letter we have been exploring. For Paul, it is always Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Without Jesus, we are nothing. With Jesus, we can do all things.
That is, very simply, the good news, the gospel. Do you know this Jesus in whom we can do all things?