September, 2020 – I’m Working on “Being Content”…

September, 2020 – I’m Working on “Being Content”…

This is a familiar story to you — The apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus spent much of his adult life terrorizing and persecuting early followers of Jesus.  He seemed to feel it was his duty – that early Christians had just plain gotten it all wrong!  But then one day while traveling the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to arrest Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem, he had a One-on-one experience with Jesus appearing to him in a bright light.  So bright that Saul, with his name soon changed to the Latin version, Paul, on the isle of Cyprus, was blinded for 3 days.

Upon Paul’s conversion, he became as strong a proponent in his witness for Christianity as he had been anti-Christian – even more so.  Paul’s personality, his zeal for his new belief in Jesus is found in all of his thirteen letters in the New Testament, but it is in the book of Acts – where nearly half of that book tells us of Paul’s life and works.  I know you know all of that.  So, it is just one verse in all of his writings, that I address here.

Upon becoming a follower of Christ, in his ministry of planting churches and missionary trips, Paul encountered those like him in his former life who now wanted to destroy him with the same vengeance, bitterness and anger he had displayed.  He writes how he was beaten for his new-found faith – flogged – imprisoned – stoned – ship wrecked – suffered the cold – was hungry and thirsty for days – mistreated and persecuted – received forty stripes (save one) five times!  Yet!! – to the Christians in Philippi (4.11), he says, “for I have learned to be content in whatever state (circumstances) I am.”  Really, Paul?!  What did you know – and how did you learn so relatively quickly the ‘secret’ of contentment?

I have had a difficult time, as a Christian, dealing with many adversities in my life, but perhaps none more than the ramifications of the present pandemic – COVID-19.  At times, it has been very difficult to be ‘content’ in this world that has seemed to have gone sideways,  turned upside-down, inside-out.  Not being able to meet for prayer in my church, for instance.  Not being able to hug and shake hands at church.  Not being able to gather with friends in their homes for fellowship.  Not feeling comfortable going out to a restaurant.  Not being able to travel freely.  So many more ‘not’s’!  And most disheartening, NOT being able to travel to my precious babies and ‘kids’ in Romania.  This is summer.  I should be in Romania!  I should be loving on, praying over, and caring for my needy and so desperate orphans who just want to see, love and hug their Mama Dawn.  This is difficult!  Beyond difficult!!

In spite of my heart being saddened beyond words in not being in ‘the other land that I love’, I seemed to have tapped into Paul’s words — ‘in whatever circumstance I am in my life; be content’.  I know this is in God’s keeping for me at this time.  And even though I take this whole COVID-19 as a personal affront at times,  I know and trust Jeremiah 29.11 – that God has no intention of allowing this virus to cause me pain – that He means only for its being for my good in the long run.  I trust that.  I trust Him.

Paul goes on in Philippians 4.12 to say – ‘ I have learned the secret (!) both of having abundance and suffering need’.  A-ha!  Because, (verse 13) – Paul had learned that ‘he could do anything through Christ Who strengthened him.’  This bond-servant (Paul) had learned to focus his eyes, heart, his very being on the One Who had all his best interest at heart.  This is the One I have chosen to focus on in this disturbing time in our history.  To use the words from an old hymn, ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus; Look full in His wonderful face . . . ‘  I am still sad about not being able to be in my cozy little flat in Brasov, but focusing on Jesus is how I have learned (and still am learning) to be content.