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Gratitude in any situation 

October 7, 2015

A year ago it was my dad’s first mission trip. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but I was really excited to have him along. Little did I know just how transformative that trip would be, for him and for me. A lot of things happened at once for him right before this trip, including his retirement and a double surgery for a twice detached retina. Yet here he was in Honduras, cracking jokes, working hard, taking in every moment and experience. I’m sure it was a combination of leaving work and the resulting stress behind, finding gratefulness for his recovery of sight, and seeing the world in a new way after this trip. Whatever it was, I have seen him transform and our relationship has grown. For all of these things I am grateful.

One night during the trip he gave a devotional during our evening group time. I don’t remember everything he said, but I do remember it was the first time in my adult life where I experienced him leading a group, talking about the Bible, and sharing his thoughts on faith. It was such an overwhelming experience I was overcome with emotion as we sat in the dark under the moonlight. I just listened to him speak, tears running down my cheeks, falling more in love with this new side of him. Monday night, a year later, he shared a devotional again. This time I was able to hold it together, but I still beamed with pride at how far he has come in that time. He shared some great thoughts, and so now I share them with you. For our first guest post this week, I present a devotional by Doug Schendel.

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. (Phil. 4:10-13)

Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Heb. 13:5-6)

Paul wrote the Philippians that he had learned the secret of contentment–depending on Christ. Money doesn’t buy contentment. Material possessions don’t offer it. Status in the community can’t get us there. We’re only content when we recognize who made and strengthens us. We find contentment not by pursuing wealth, but by pursuing Christ alone.

Gratitude is thankfulness for all of God’s vast and free blessings. Our gratitude sets the tone for contentment in our lives. When we start there, we put everything else in the shadow of God’s faithfulness. We pursue Christ and find that he gives us exactly enough, he is all we need.
Contentment is the result of appreciating God’s blessings, however they come to us. Most of us want contentment. We want to feel settled and at peace. But when we look to worldly things we’ll never find it. We can follow Paul’s secret though. The secret is a grateful life in Christ.

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