I, like countless young Americans, have tattooed the famous Bible verse of Philippians 4:13 on my body. Even non-believers are familiar with the verse. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Of course, this verse is taken too often to mean that God will help me to run a sub four minute mile based off will, or that I will land a career bringing home six figure income without ever working a day in my life. This famous verse is the verse that gives the false assumption that God is a genie, not the Lord of all creation. I do not see God sitting in heaven waiting for someone to read this verse, and then dropping cash and success on that person. Knowing that I have this verse tattooed on my body, I find myself seeing it on countless others, and I always try to ask when I notice it what their thoughts are on Philippians 4:10-12, focusing primarily on 4:12. Shockingly, I have yet to meet a person who has 4:13 on them who can recite 4:12; this makes me aware there is a problem. Philippians 4:12 is the forgotten verse that shows that any verse out of context can not only lead us astray but can also set us up for failure.
"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." After reading this verse, I am not saying I am free from wanting more or praying for more, or even worse, believing I deserve more. Paul when he wrote this verse was starving in a jail cell and yet was not concerned with his chains or lack of food but instead found comfort in knowing that Christ is enough.
After leaving Kansas and moving back to Colorado, I took a leap of faith that God would provide for me. This sometimes in my delusions meant a great coaching career or financially successful business career and moving into a big house near my favorite trails and parks. This has, however, yet to happen. God has not forsaken me, but instead has been reinforcing the most forgotten Bible verse. Being content does not mean I will be content after I get the great career or house or whatever worldly possession I dream of. It comes from being content renting a room from a friend and working two part time jobs, and if need be a third. Being content as Paul was, is not something that comes easy. Paul himself says he has "learned" the meaning. Like anything, it takes time and will not come easy. So, the next time you or I think, I need to move to Denver or to another state, or that God is holding out on us, perhaps He is not telling us to quit working or believing, but simply to be content. To be happy and count our blessings instead of looking over the fence at the greener grass that someone else has. Having something we don't yet possess will not bring us contentment, only trusting God with all our lives will do that, and in turn we will be content and will rejoice as Paul did in whatever we have.
Take heart for God has not forgotten us nor does he want us to give up on our dreams or goals. He wants us to be content as we live each day to spread His word across the land and to use the gifts He has so generously given.