Gratitude in All Seasons

Today's devotion comes to us from M. Thomas Norwood, Jr.  This was included in the devotional guide "A Generous Life," which we read as a congregation a few years ago.

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I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:12-13)

There are many Americans who know the words “I can do all things ...” not because they heard them read from a church pulpit, but because they have seen them written on the shoes of NBA All-Star Stephen Curry. Curry has been writing some variation of that Bible verse on his sneakers before each game since his college days, and he continues to use it for motivation and inspiration.

But as Curry found out the hard way after his Golden State Warriors blew a 3–1 series lead and lost the 2016 NBA title to Cleveland, the words of Philippians 4:13 do not ensure winning an NBA championship every season! What, then, of the promise that we can do ALL things through Christ? Paul’s own life and circumstances provide the key to understanding his message.

Paul truly knew hardship: he endured whippings, beatings, shipwrecks, and a stoning, as well as hunger and thirst; he wrote this letter from a prison cell. Yet, at the same time, he learned to be grateful for and to accept the abundant generosity of the church at Philippi as they had ministered to his needs. That is why he could say in the verses just prior to the ones above, “I have learned to be content with whatever I have” (v. 11 NRSV). The good news for us is this: Paul was not promising that believers can do anything and everything because of Jesus. Rather he was saying that because Jesus is sufficient for all our needs, we can be content in every circumstance in which we find ourselves.

- M. Thomas Norwood Jr.

Reflection
What does Christian contentment look like? How can we experience the joy of grateful living for God in all areas of our lives? Why do we find it hard to accept generosity from others?

Challenge
Think about your journey toward finding contentment up to this point. What ups and downs have you experienced?

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