Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Philippians 4: 12-13
My wife Sara is participating in a book study group, where the current book is Choosing Gratitude, by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. It is thought-provoking and is generating a lot of discussion and internal revamping within Sara and the group.
We were discussing today a famous verse quoted in the book from the Apostle Paul, near the end of his life and his time in prison, sent to a church in Philippi of which he was especially fond. Paul shares this life wisdom:
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 of in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
That is an attitude to which Sara and I aspire; we all should. Regardless of circumstance, we can lean on Christ and be grateful.
The book contains a dreadful story of women in the Congo who were beaten and raped repeatedly by nationalist forces occupying their village, and how one of the women was inspired to thank God for being able to suffer in His name. When you read an extreme story of want and suffering and gratitude like that, it makes you think that you can probably find a way to be thankful in your present situation of want, whatever it is.
But I also want to speak into the situation of having plenty. I live in what is considered to be an affluent suburb, all in all, though there is a wide range of living conditions in our city. I have worked with and gone to church with and neighbored with people who have plenty. And I can confidently say that money alone doesn't buy happiness, and it certainly doesn't buy gratitude.
One of the problems of plenty is fear: Fear of losing what you have, and fear of still not having enough. There was an interesting survey I read about years ago, and now I have lost the source, but not the memory. The survey asked people, "How much money would you have to earn to really have it made?" In other words, when would enough be enough? Here are the fascinating outcomes:
For people who made $25,000 per year, their ideal number to "make it" was $50,000.
For people who made $50,000 per year, their ideal number was $100,000.
For people who made $100,000 per year, their ideal number was $200,000.
For people who made $200,000 per year, their ideal number was $500,000. (When you got to this group, the ideal number more than doubled!)
The point is, whatever you make, it isn't going to be enough. If someone in the $50,000 group advanced to $100,000 in salary, then they would want $200,000 next!
I can also confidently tell you that there are miserable people who have a lot of money. Their children have a hard time, too. The family may not have the right approach for raising their children; maybe it's because the focus is on that next level of salary. Just as likely, regardless of plenty or want, some people put their faith, trust and hope in God through Jesus Christ, and some don't - and that includes people who attend a church.
To be content in plenty or in want, it's going to take gratitude. And perspective. And faith. And hope in Christ's strength. And a trust in God's provision.
In your 7-day practical faith walk, consider today your situation. Are you in plenty or in want? (Perhaps you are in both at the same time, in various ways). Are you content? And if not, how will you become content?
Whether in plenty or in want, we know from experience that crisis can be just around the corner for all of us. Please consider registering for my webinar, "Five Ways to Get Closer to God during a Crisis," partially based on principles from my book and video series, The Next Thing: A Christian Model for Dealing with Crisis in Personal Life. The online webinar is scheduled for Nov. 10 at 7 pm Central time. You can register by going to CecilTaylorMinistries.com, scrolling down, and entering your info when the registration box pops up.