It is not that I speak as regards a need, for, so far as I am concerned, I have come to learn, in the circumstances in which I am placed, to be independent of these and self-sufficient. I know in fact how to discipline myself in lowly circumstances. I know in fact how to conduct myself when I have more than enough. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret, both to be satiated and to be hungry, and to have more than enough and to lack. I am strong for all things in the One who constantly infuses strength in me. (1) (Philippians 4:10-13 – Kenneth Wuest Translation).
As I thought about the above scripture, I was reminded of a trip to Ethiopia we took several years ago. It reminds me of how quickly circumstances can turn very sour. And when that happens, attitude is everything! Here in Philippians 4, the Apostle Paul gives an excellent attitude plan that can help us navigate through life’s hard places.
A scheduled evangelistic campaign did not go as planned. That Friday morning began early for us. We traveled to a remote site on top of a mountain that was over 9,000 feet in elevation. The air is thin that high! We were filled with expectation as we walked a crooked dirt path to the place where the meetings would be held.
When we arrived at the meeting place in a large open place on top of the mountain, hundreds of people looked silently at us with bewildered faces. Twenty armed guards had been sent to stop the meetings! The reason was that a disgruntled former church leader had forced a law that every open public meeting must have approval from the territorial authorities. Those planning the meeting had overlooked this seemingly small detail to our chagrin.
To add insult to injury, it began to rain. Not just the typical daily rain that frequented this quaint mountain site, but a deluge! We ran for cover under the porch of a nearby building, abandoning the shelter of the primitive brush harbor that offered no shelter from hard rain.
When the rain ended over an hour later, the once clear mountain path we had taken had become a bog of pure mud! We slogged downhill for over two miles with the thin air exhausting us! Then the rain began again! We we soaked with rain, tired from lack of normal oxygen in the thin mountain atmosphere, dirty from sticky mud clinging to our shoes and clothes, and dispirited as we thought about the lost ministry opportunity. It was as if the enemy was adding insult to injury as we walked down that red mud path.
On my downhill trek that day I thought of the above verse. As the cold rain pelted us, and as the mud clung to our shoes and coated the cuffs of our pants, I thought of how quickly circumstances can change. And of how important it is when the going gets tough, to keep our eyes of the finish line, and kep our chin up. Our attitude in the hard place determines how well we navigate life’s tough places.
You may be facing what seems like an endless stream of hardship. Take to heart the message found in this scripture. With the power of God enabling us, we can endure every hardship. Jesus endured the hardship of the cross by seeing before Him the joy of millions of believers basking in His presence in eternity.
You can face the difficulty this day may bring because of the promise of God’s providential care for His beloved. We are assured and know that God being a partner in their labor all things work together and are fitting into a plan for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose (Romans 8:28 – Amplified). Regardless of the circumstance, expect God’s best!
(1) From The New Testament: An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest Copyright © 1961 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. All rights reserved.