I am not saying this because I am in need, for 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 everything through him who gives me strength. (Php 4:11-13)
Paul’s words are amazing, especially when you stop and consider that he was writing them from a prison cell. How could anyone possibly be content in prison? Obviously it wasn’t because Paul enjoyed prison. I’m sure that if he had his choice, he would have chosen to be free. But he wasn’t free. He had been falsely accused by those who opposed the gospel and he was a prisoner in Rome. The question Paul now had to answer was – ‘Will I allow my circumstances to drag me down and destroy me or will I let God use me in these circumstances for His glory?’
Paul chose to allow God to use him for His glory, even in prison. Rather than becoming angry with life or with God, Paul looked to God for strength and the strength he found not only enabled him to endure, it also enabled him to accomplish what few others have ever accomplished. It was from prison that Paul wrote most of his New Testament letters.
Paul’s strength came from his relationship with the Lord. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, ‘Pray without ceasing.’ I’m sure that those were more than idle words to Paul. Prayer was his lifeline to God and it was through his prayer life that Paul found the strength he needed to survive and to flourish. Paul said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” So can we.