When my son Jarred was little, he liked to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. The commercials were mostly aimed at children and usually promoted a new toy. After each one, he would say, “I’m going to get that.”
Proverbs 27:20 says that human eyes “are never satisfied.” No matter what we have, we always seem to want a little more. Marketers depend upon this and try to stir our discontent by promising more than their products can deliver. On the other hand, Paul had “learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (v. 11). The Greek word that is translated as “content” means to be self-sufficient, but Paul is not saying that the secret to contentment is to depend upon oneself. The word conveys the idea of being independent.
Paul did not rely on his circumstances for happiness. Due to this, he was just as able to be content when he had little as when he had much. What was his secret? He had learned to depend upon God (v. 13). The key to contentment is not positive thinking or mind over matter but the power of God. He knew that God would give him the strength necessary to meet his circumstances, whatever the situation.
Not only did this enable Paul to endure difficulties like hunger and limited resources, but it also kept him from bitterness when others who might have helped him did not (v. 10). The mindset Paul describes is not stoicism, nor is it a fatalistic acceptance of his circumstances. The correct word for the kind of thinking Paul describes is faith. It is the same conviction expressed in Hebrews 13:6: “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
>> Are you facing difficult circumstances today? The Lord has promised to be your helper. You don’t have to be a match for the difficulties you encounter. God will come to your aid.
It isn’t true that You’ll never give us what we can’t handle. It is true that You’ll never give us anything You can’t handle. We look to You for all our needs; Your strength is perfected in our weakness.