Philippians 4:11-13 “…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
What are the perfect conditions when pounding the pavement? Ideal weather. No aches and pains. Fastest pace ever. When we’re fortunate enough to run in ultimate conditions, we soak it up—adoring every moment. This is what we call the runner’s high. This is when we tell anyone who’ll listen, “Running is the best thing ever!” Our best-case-scenario runs make us feel on top of the world, like nothing could ever steal our passion.
But what if it’s below freezing? Frigid wind blowing in your face. How about rain? Not just scattered showers, but a torrential downpour—sloshing through puddles, water streaming down your face. Does your passion begin to melt when running in blistering heat? Maybe you run your slowest pace ever in a race, knees throbbing at the finish line. How do you survive your worst-case-scenario kind of runs?
We can’t control extreme weather. But we adjust our wardrobe—acclimating to the outside temps. The temps remain the same, but our attitude changes our perception. Our bodies won’t always function the way we want. But we recover, and keep going.
As Christians, we can apply these same strategies in our difficult seasons of life. We can’t control the circumstances swirling around us, but we can choose to be content in every situation. Is that really possible? According to the apostle Paul, it is.
His journey led him down a path of extreme persecution. He was flogged, beaten with rods, stoned and thrown into prison multiple times. He plunged through other worst-case-scenario seasons, too! He was shipwrecked three times, spent an entire night and day in the open sea, faced danger from robbers and frequently experienced thirst, hunger and sleepless nights. (Imagine showing up to a race start line completely dehydrated, famished and exhausted!)
He couldn’t control the extreme persecution he faced. Yet he chose to be content—even in prison, where he penned many pages of the New Testament epistles. Even in horrendous circumstances, he accepted where he was. How in the world could he possibly do that?
The key is found in today’s scripture: He could do all things through Christ. The power of the Holy Spirit ignited a supernatural strength within him, allowing his soul to acclimate to his surroundings.
Although we long for perfect living conditions, that’s not reality. We don’t always get to live life in our sweet spot. Just as our physical bodies acclimate to extreme temps, Jesus pours his strength and peace on our weary souls. When we embrace the Holy Spirit, he leads us in every situation, no matter how extreme it feels. As strength ignites within us, it changes our perception of what lies ahead.
We must embrace Paul’s words and trust that we can do all things through Christ. When life’s bitter-cold winds blow fiercely in our face, we keep moving. When the journey feels like a desert, we seek the streams of living water. When hard times slow us down, we don’t give up. We keep on trusting and stay as close to Jesus as possible. No matter what kind of season we’re facing, we resolve to keep running the race.
READY? Identify a time when life’s conditions were not so good for you. How did you get through it? Where in your life are you struggling to be content right now? Like Paul, are you willing to surrender, claiming the strength of Jesus?
GET SET. 2 Corinthians 12:10 “For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
GO! Lord Jesus, I thank you for the reminder today of your powerful strength. When I feel like drowning in difficult circumstances, help me cling to your truth. Instead of focusing on the stuff I can’t control, please help me focus on who you are. Amen.
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Embracing The Race: 40 Devotions for the Runner’s Soul
Blessings to you!