Now that I’m older, I tend to romanticize my childhood. Back then, we didn’t have to worry about bills, or jobs, or in my case Greek. Now we usually worry about our IRAs, but then our biggest worry was having the right Capri Sun in our lunch. In all junctures of life, our satisfaction captivates our decision-making. We think our biggest problem is building bigger barns, when our problem is so much deeper.
In the book of Philippians, Paul had every right to lack satisfaction, because he writes this letter while in prison. Even then, Paul explains, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity” (Philippians 4:10). From a prison cell, Paul is thankful for the Philippians concern for him, but it doesn’t stop there: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:11-12). In both his lows and his highs, Paul says that he can be satisfied.
But how is this possible? Does Paul just have a stiff upper lip, hoping to find brighter days? Even in his suffering, you can see Paul’s excitement: he’s using language as if he’s been initiated into a secret society. So often our response to our circumstances is inward focused: in our lows, we blame others; in our highs, we congratulate ourselves. We think our biggest problem is our contentment when really it’s ourselves. We try to please ourselves with friends, money, and pleasure but are still left wanting more. The Rolling Stone’s song has truly become our mantra.
Despite of who we are, we have the answer in Paul’s secret: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). When we look to ourselves for contentment, we’re always left wanting. But in Christ, we can finally find true satisfaction, or as one of my professors has said: “We find ourselves outside ourselves.”
We are always looking to meet our own expectation. But if we look to ourselves, we will fail every time. We can have satisfaction, but that is only through looking heavenward. It is there that we see our Savior who has made satisfaction for us on the Cross.