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Last updated 1/9/2017 at 5:27pm

War Amps

People go through terrible situations--loss of an arm or leg through warfare or an accident. Some people always complain no matter what happens. The secret is learning to be content in everything.

Years ago I knew two brothers who farmed their land together. One of them had lost both legs fighting in the Korean War. The other brother had lost an arm in a farm-machinery accident. They worked hard and never complained about their lot in life. Neither did their wives and children.

They were committed Christians, and I can still see those brothers and their families sitting in the first two rows of their little country church. They worshiped God, trusted Him for guidance and lived their lives in faithfulness. They were contented.

But I've also met people who are always complaining about their difficulties, how they got a raw deal, how life has mistreated them. They can be discontented, unhappy, over a head cold or a bad-hair day. They are no fun to be with because they always see themselves as victims.

Paul-My Example

The apostle Paul was a lot like those two brothers. He could say, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances" (Philippians 4:11, NIV).

Yet when he described how life treated him, I can see that Paul had every reason to complain. Look at what he faced. He spoke of prison, floggings and exposure to death: "Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked" (2 Corinthians 11:24–27, NIV).

Focused on the One Who Is Always There

What is it to know the guidance, the peace and the contentment of God in whatever circumstances we find ourselves? God is not dead nor is He asleep; He reminds us that He even knows about the little sparrows. He tells us, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5 NIV). That's a promise we can cling to.

Just as Paul had his focus on the One who is always there, the two farmer brothers had their eyes on the One who was always in the farm fields with them. Others, who complain all the time, will often blame God for their situation in life even though they never asked God to guide their lives in the first place or to live in their hearts as Savior and King.

Which type of person am I? Can I be thrown into anger when things go wrong for me? Is the world supposed to make me happy? I live in a broken world; all kinds of evil surround me. This isn't paradise. Reality tells me that I am going to have difficulty. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NIV).

Do I know how to be content because I know who is with me in my life? Or am I a complainer because I don't know the One who wants to be with me in my life? "You are not your own;" Paul tells us, "you were bought at a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, NIV). And what a price that was!

Like those two farmer brothers, I want to be able to live a balanced and contented life not because nothing bad happens to me but because when the bad does happen to me, I am with the One who will take me through it.

And with the great missionary, Paul, I too want to say, "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 everything through Him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:12, NIV). That's the way I want to live too.

Roger Palms, former editor of Decision magazine, is the author of 16 books and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. He teaches writers in this country and others.


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