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‘Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’ (Philippians 4:8-13)

The Apostle Paul writes these words near the end of his letter to a fledgling church in Philippi struggling along with Paul in the challenges he faced as he was imprisoned and uncertain about his future. It seems to me that we might do well to put a bookmark at this passage as we face the uncertain future of a challenging world. I particularly draw your attention to verses 12 & 13:

‘I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.’

Given the current state of affairs in the economy (especially at the grocery store, the gas station and when the oil delivery comes), it might be wise to pray that we can become as Paul in knowing the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry. What Paul is calling the Philippians (and be extension us) to is being mindful of the ground of our being (as theologian Paul Tillich would put it), which is God alone. At the very core of our being as humans created in the image and likeness of God is an insatiable yearning to connection, relationship, even union with God. We were created to reflect the confidence, glory, compassion and love of the God of all that was, is and is to come.

I guess I’d summarize one of our challenges like this: It has been said that tough times don’t last but tough people do. I would like to make an appeal to a different understanding. One that comes from a place of deep faith and confidence in God’s good wishes for us and for the whole world. I want to suggest that Paul’s appeal to the Philippians might be best summarized that tough times don’t last simply because God is. So then I see the challenge as not giving into the temptation to despair by remembering, to the core of our beings, that whatever tough times we endure, we do so with the God of all the universe at our side and in our corner. Maybe Julian of Norwich said it best, “All will be well and in all manner of things, all will be well.” She recognizes that it is not at present well in the eyes of God but that the promise is that the completion and perfection of the creation is a promise, not merely a dream. I believe that is what leads Paul to boldly proclaim is ability to ‘do all things through him who strengthens me’ (v. 13).

Here’s to strength for your journey, my journey and our journey. I trust that sooner or later, we’ll all learn to deal .

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