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12 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 or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4: 12 – 13 NIV
I’ve recently wondered about the reason behind the stark contrast of seasons in my life. There’ve been seasons where I had household help and seasons where I had to do all the housework on my own. Seasons of financial abundance and seasons when the cupboards were sparse. Seasons surrounded by friends and family and seasons far from my loved ones. When held up against each other in my mind, many of the seasons were as different as day from night.
In my quiet time with God, I’ve wondered aloud about this. “Why the deep valleys and high peaks?”, “Why such stark contrast?”… The scripture above is the answer I got. In that moment I realized that without the ‘black-and-whites’ of life – the sharp contrasts in seasons – I would have missed out on several valuable lessons.
God is my unchanging Source
When all the frills of a season of abundance are removed, I’m confronted with the bare bones truth. The truth is – God is my Source. Not a pay check. Not a job. Not my insurance. Not my family or friends. And though all these things are good and can provide a sense of security, I sometimes become mistaken about where my hope truly lies. When there is so much certainty in my circumstances, it’s easy to forget where my help truly comes from. That though the seasons may change, my faithful God never does. The job, the paycheck, the kindness of friends…those are all channels that God may choose to use to provide for me. But should my circumstances change tomorrow, God’s plans to provide for me according to His riches in glory, will certainly not! The channel of God’s provision may look different depending on the season of life. But the Source remains the same. From everlasting to everlasting He is God. Always has been and will forever be my faithful God and Father. This truth is part of what helps me in difficult seasons to remain at peace when everything around me is out of my control and not as I would have hoped. I believe this is part of Paul’s ‘secret’. He too had experienced stark contrasting seasons. And he must have realized the same thing. That God doesn’t change just because our circumstances do. And when we choose to put our hope in God as our Source instead of the channels He uses to provide for us, then we can remain at peace no matter what comes our way.
Difficult seasons increase my gratitude in the less challenging ones
No one has lived a life without some measure of pain or struggle. In this broken world, pain and suffering are inevitable. And though I’ve never lived without ever experiencing pain, or loss, or rejection, or heartbreak… It occurs to me that without those experiences I may not have laughed as hard or loved as deeply. Because I would have nothing with which to compare the wonderful times. Suffering makes triumph that much sweeter. It helps us to relish the great times. To be truly grateful for seasons of relief. The difficult seasons give us the opportunity to experience the redemptive power of God in ways we would not have if everything was easy all the time. The times where we can see no way out, no answers, where there seems to be no hope… These are the seasons when we get to see God provide a way of escape. To find that Jesus is the answer to every problem we face. And that He is the only One in whom we can confidently place our hope. How much more grateful we are for the seasons of ease when we recognize that God’s grace alone carries us through it all.
Christ gives me strength to remain in faith regardless of the season
Seasons of plenty and abundance and ease are wonderful. They feel like a chance to come up for air and rest a while after life’s waves have repeatedly beaten you against the rocks. The danger is that in seasons when everything is easy and going as we’d like, we can become deluded about our own strength. There is sometimes a temptation to think that we are experiencing this ease or abundance because of anything we have done. That somehow it was brought about by our goodness and strength. Difficult seasons strip away all the distractions from where our strength truly lies. There’s no room to be deluded about your own strength in difficult seasons. Tough times help us to face the truth that we cannot save ourselves. Challenges point us to the Only one who is truly strong. Sometimes it’s only then that we realize Jesus’ strength is able to cover our weakness. That we can rest in Him and find peace even as the storm rages. But if the storm never raged, how would our faith be built? How would we come to the place where our joy is full even when our cupboards are not? When we feel too weak to go on, we are faced with the reality that only through faith in Jesus can we access the grace necessary to go through difficult seasons.
No matter what season we find ourselves in, may we learn to be content, grateful and joyful knowing that our faithful God never changes.
Love & Blessings,