Most of the time when we talk about trials, we think of physical suffering, pain, and loss. And we should. After all, the Bible does. For example, 2 Cor. 11:24-28 records the many difficult trials Paul faced as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul knew the pain of suffering and loss. And through these trials he learned to trust in God. But he learned something else. Something we often forget. Paul learned to be content in EVERY situation.
In Philippians 4:12, Paul speaks of God’s provision and how he learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Paul knew how to be brought low and how to abound. In every circumstance, he was content because he understood that life was filled with both trials and blessing, suffering and prosperity.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of Paul I picture him suffering all the time. I picture a man who never enjoyed one moment of physical comfort or pleasure. Yet, it’s clear that there were times where he had plenty. I'm not sure what that entailed, but in those times Paul knew what to do. He abounded in thanksgiving. He continued to trust in God and not in what he had. I wonder if we do the same.
You see, for most of us, we face a different kind of trial each day. The trial of prosperity. Prosperity can be a dangerous trial for the Christian. Instead of bringing us closer to God, it can take us further away from him. Charles Spurgeon once said,
The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the refining pot of prosperity. Oh, what leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God!
Wow. Most of us have never thought that God would test our faith by giving us abundance. And these mercies of God can actually take us away from God if we receive them with the wrong heart. So like Paul, I want to learn to be content in every circumstance. I want to learn what it means to be brought low in times of adversity. And I want to learn how to abound in times of prosperity - so that my soul would be satisfied in Christ alone no matter what comes my way.
That's my prayer for you today as well.