Sometimes I look at my favorite websites like Cabela’s or some of the fly-fishing sites that I purchase gear from and add things to my wish list. Most of them have features for wish lists that conveniently save the things you hope to buy or have given to you someday because you can’t afford them today.
It is pretty easy to go through page after page of nice things, see all the cool stuff I don’t have and add lots of things to my wish list. Pretty soon my list is long and pricey. The problem is that at some point in my browsing all the cool things I become more interested in things I don’t really need. I can become dissatisfied with what I have even though it has been working just fine. I know that this is the wrong way to think so I convince myself that I need things that I really don’t need and I feel much better about being unhappy with what I have.
I have so often been confused by such a simple question as “what do I need?” I have prayed and prayed for things I needed and then been aggravated and frustrated at God because He failed to supply me with those things like He promised me He would!
Philippians 4:18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God.
Just reading this verse a person might get the idea that Paul was sitting at home enjoying a new fly rod and sipping on some Starbuck’s coffee that the people from the church at Philippi had sent him. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Paul was in prison and probably wrote this letter in near darkness or dim torch-light. He was sleeping on the ground and being guarded by Roman soldiers. The gifts he received were probably less than magnificent, they were most likely meager if the soldiers allowed Paul to have them and not keep them for themselves. Yet Paul continued on doing God’s work in the worst possible conditions when by all appearances he did not have all he needed.
Apparently my idea of what is needed is not quite right. Paul needed just enough light to see, something to write with and something to write on, food and water to sustain him and a place to sleep. He was so in line with God’s view of things that he saw that he needed nothing else. I am sure he wanted some other things but he was able to get past that and do amazing things even while Roman rulers attempted to shut him down.
Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
This is another one of those verses I have heard lots of times all by itself and thought, “Wow! Jesus is going to buy me everything on my wish list!” Paul wrote this in an entirely different context than how most people quote it. God doesn’t promise to give us a mansion or a Corvette, a hunting lodge or a new diesel truck. He promises to be with us in hard times and give us what we need to further His Kingdom in those hard times. Now, I might not want to go through hard times, I am sure Paul didn’t either, but everyone does. Christians and non-Christians all suffer through trials and that is how life goes. I can know, if I seek God and search for ways to further His Kingdom, that God is providing me with all I need even though it may feel like I am lacking. He has and will always supply all my needs.
James 1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
This verse makes a lot more sense if I look at my needs the way God sees them. He works to show Himself to me in the midst of my troubles and I become more like Him. I have read that last verse before and thought it was just crazy talk. But when I look at the amazing things God did through Paul when he was experiencing trials I can understand it better.
Philippians 4:20 Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen.
Paul wraps up this section of scriptures with these words. I have looked at verses like this as just some good sounding words like when someone says a really eloquent prayer and throws in a bunch of religious sounding phrases. But this is important. This is how I need to approach my day, every day. All glory to God. What I need separates itself from what I want when I live this way. My view of the world becomes God’s view of the world. My future is provided for.
God, open my eyes to see that all my needs are being met. Show me that even when my situation looks bleak I can still serve you. Show me how to have joy in my troubles. All glory to You forever and ever! Amen.