I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11–13
When we think of Paul the apostle, it is important to remember that he was not always the dominant figure in the movement that became known as Christianity. Initially, he violently opposed it. Immediately after his conversion, he spent three years in Damascus learning how to live and communicate his faith. Then he went into hiding for ten years, until Barnabas went to retrieve him. By the time Paul arrived in Antioch, he was no longer a rookie. He knew, according to Jesus, whom he encountered on the road to Damascus, that he was “chosen to carry my name before nations and kings and the people of Israel.” But Jesus did not put him into service until, according to Paul, “ he considered me faithful.” So, when we see Paul urging us to imitate him, we would be wise to consider his whole life’s journey. We can imitate Paul’s faith by imitating Paul’s process. He was content with wherever Jesus led him because he learned that Jesus would prosper his ministry regardless of the circumstances. So can we. We can learn, as he did, that Jesus’ grace will be sufficient for us. Jesus enabled him “to open the eyes of people so they would turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God so they would be forgiven and receive an inheritance among those who are made holy by trusting” in him. We can learn this too.
Lord, strengthen me so I will be someone you see as faithful to what you have called me to do as a citizen in your kingdom.