Per recent events such as the Ebola, universal uprising of terrorism, multiple shootings, several major plane crashes, Cruise ships and Ferries sinking, many children went missing, it is obvious that we are living in a time of growing uncertainty and personal anxiety. A renowned researcher writes that as we have clearly in a period of global instability. I know I am speaking to people with health concerns, financial worries, career issues, marital problems, spiritual struggles, unanswered prayers, and serious concerns about what the new year will bring for you and your loved ones. Often we say “Happy New Year” rather superficially—many times without any thought at all. We should ask “will 2015 be a happy new year for us”? In every generation believers have faced moments when fear threatened to overwhelm faith. God’s word to his people is always “Fear not” – a phrase repeated 365 times in the Bible—once for every day in the year. No matter what happens in 2015—or in the years to come—God’s word to you is the same: “Fear not – Your God is with you.” As we prepare for 2015, I want us to focus on three Christian principles to be Extremely Happy in 2015.
At any given moment I have everything I truly need…
True contentment means understanding that at any given moment I have everything I truly need. In Philippians 4: verse 11 he declares, “I have learned to be content” and in verse 12 he says, “I have learned the secret of being content.” Why was not everything given to us as a gift from God? The answer is that God is most glorified when we struggle through the process of being weaned from our dependence on the things of the world. To be weaned is to have something removed from your life which you thought you couldn’t live without. Most of us live on the opposite principle. In our hearts we think, “I would be happy if only I had a new car or a new job or a new dress or a new husband or a new wife.” Since life is hardly ever that simple, we stay frustrated when we ought to be happy. No wonder we are never satisfied. Instead of being weaned from the world, we are wedded to it. Or maybe I should say, welded to it. I almost certainly do not have everything I want. And I probably do not have everything I think I need. This part of the definition means that God has so ordered the universe that no matter where you are right now you have everything you truly need to be content. That is an awesome statement—and I know it’s one thing to say that on Sunday morning, it’s something else to believe that when your husband walks out on you or the doctor says, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing else we can do.”
How do we know this is true? We know it because God has said it is true. He has promised to supply our needs. He has guaranteed that he will feed and clothe us. He has promised to hear our prayers. He has given the Holy Spirit to lead and the Word of God to guide us. He has redeemed us from our sins, given us new life, placed us in Christ, endowed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, seated us with Christ in heaven, given us abundant life, filled us with his Spirit, placed us in the body of Christ, and promised us a way of escape in the moment of temptation. He sent his angels to encamp around us, translated us from the realm of darkness into the kingdom of his dear Son, sealed us with the Spirit who is the earnest of our salvation, caused us to pass from death to life, justified us while we were still ungodly, and called us his children, He adopted us into his family, sanctified us, promised never to leave us, set our feet on the road to heaven, broken Satan’s power, removed the fear of death, and guaranteed our future resurrection.
If all that is true, how can we doubt that God will give us what we need when we need it? That applies to every area of life—to our finances, our job, our health, our marriage, our friendships, our children, our parents, every relationship of life, and to all our dreams for the future. You have got everything you need to be content right now—and if you are not, please do not blame God. It is not his fault. He has not changed His love and promises for us.
Contentment comes from my confidence in God…
Paul knew that riches are not the way to contentment. So he was willing to hold material things with an open hand. He refused to become a slave to wealth. He could walk away from prosperity when service to the Lord demanded it. What about you? Are you killing yourself to get that gold medal? Let me remind you – if you’re not happy without it, you won’t be happy with it either. Verse 12 lays this out very clearly. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.” In case we missed it he adds this phrase, “Whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” It’s easy to assume Paul means being well fed is good and going hungry is bad. But that’s not correct. Poverty and prosperity both have their good uses—and both can lead us astray spiritually. If we take the words of Jesus seriously, riches can wreck the soul much quicker than poverty – St. Matthew 19:23-26.
God has ordained every circumstance of my life…
I know of no truth more important than this. As a priest, I constantly face this question in dealing with the seeming inequities of life — why the wicked prosper while the righteous often suffer in this world! Hardly a week goes by that I do not hear about someone in one of our congregations who is battling with cancer. What I cannot explain is why it happens to one person and not to another. You can go through life asking, Why did this happen? And you will end up frustrated and disappointed because in this life there is rarely a satisfactory answer to that question. We simply do not know why some people live long and prosper while others never seem to catch a break. In the world’s terms, they are victims of bad luck. From the standpoint of Holy Scripture, we can only say that God is working out his plan in ways we cannot see from our limited vantage point. This becomes very personal when I pray and cry with members of various congregations as they face the uncertainties of life. One thing I have learned is that there are no guarantees, which is why a long time ago I stopped making promises about what God will do in a particular situation. Generally, I do not know what God is going to do, and I am content to leave matters in his hands.
Therefore, what is the secret of contentment in 2015? The answer is that, my God will give me strength in every circumstance to do his will. This is the true meaning of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” This takes more than positive thinking. You have got to have Jesus Christ on the inside. We have the power of the indwelling Christ who gives us the strength we need. Is Jesus Christ enough for the problems of life? Is his broken body enough? Is his shed blood sufficient? Is his intercession in heaven able to sustain us? Can his power meet the problems of life? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes, and the saints across the ages testify that Jesus Christ is enough. There is one thing I know for certain from my personal and family life. God has given us everything we need in 2015. Therefore, we can be content whatever happens, and we need not fear the future.
I am praying for the very best in life for you and your loved ones. Wishing you and your lovely family a fabulous 2015 with full of great achievements and experiences – A meaningful chapter full of contentment waiting to be written in your New Year. Thank you for your continued prayers. And may God bless us all. Amen.
The writer Rev. Fr. Alexander J. Kurien is the Deputy Associate Administrator at the Office of U.S. Government-Wide Policy of the United States Government