Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with
whatever I have (v.11).
Whenever a friend succeeds,” Gore Vidal once
said, ”a little something in me dies.” The
words are sad, because a life lived in envy
leaves little room for joy. But don’t Vidal’s words reflect
our own feelings at times?
Every person who longs to be married knows that
sinking feeling when yet another friend becomes
engaged. Every childless couple feels a stab of grief
when yet another pregnancy is announced. Every sick
person who has prayed for healing feels the confusion
when hearing another’s miraculous testimony of being
healed. Why them and not me, God? we whisper inside,
as we put on our smiles and hide our sadness. The
apostle Paul tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice
(Romans 12:15), but when others get what we’ve been
denied it can feel like something in us has died.
“I have learned how to be content with whatever
I have,” Paul said (Philippians 4:11). In this case, he
was talking about food and finances (v.12), but we
can read his sentiment more broadly. Paul was single
(1 Corinthians 7:7), he’d been denied healing (2 Cor.
12:7-9), and had often lacked safety, shelter, and sleep
(11:23-29). Yet he could say his weaknesses were his
strength (12:10). How?
Paul revealed his secret to the Philippians: “I can
do everything through Christ, who gives me strength”
(Philippians 4:13). He faced sickness, singleness, loneliness, and sleeplessness
by drawing all he needed from Jesus who dwelt within him.
The most contented people I know have discovered this secret for themselves.
Their enjoyment of God overshadows any loss they’ve known.
“Whenever a friend succeeds,” I want to be able to say, “a little something in
me lives.” May our empty spaces be filled with Jesus today.
Read the apostle Paul’s prayer for power in Ephesians 3:14-21.
Read it slowly as your own prayer, knowing that God’s answer to it
When have you experienced grief or envy over another’s success?
What will you ask of Jesus as you seek to have your empty spaces filled