"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."
So what was his secret I want to know?
Did he learn how to catch those winds of adversity - at just the right time and ride those winds to his desired destination, coming out as a winner no matter what? I'd say he did. I'd say that his many adverse situations taught him what God wanted him to learn and that was, that God is faithful. He saw how God brought him through one adverse situation after another, and once we see that all the adversities we have lived, and that God is faithful we also realize He may not always give us the desires of our heart, but may use the pain and suffering in a way that He is actually equipping us for service to Him. But God must first establish us in a relationship with Him, and our relationship with God usually grows under pressure, not in our comfort zones. Before we can ever be effective for any great work that serves the Living God in a way that will also manifest or release the Spirit's Power, we must be in an intimate relationship with God having learned that He is faithful to deliver us from all that rears it's head in our path.
Paul learned that God is faithful. He learned this through adversity and when opposition to God's Work hit him again and again, he learned to catch those winds and ride them to his desired destination. We see Paul having done just this. With one opposition after opposition - and The Book of Acts depicts this clearly if one will study for insight and understanding. In the end of his life he appealed to Caesar - the Governor, and this would be like appealing to God rather than the flawed injustices of man and man's laws of imperfections to judge righteously. So Paul said: "I appeal to Caesar!” (Acs 25:11) who would be serving in the place of God able to make a right judgment.
Adversity hit Paul again with a shipwreck while sent to appeal to Ceasar (Acts 27). Even though he knew the ship was headed for disaster and warned the captain of the ship who turned a deaf ear, he knew God had delivered him faithfully from years of adversity and that God was faithful. Here again he was weak but without doubt, that supernatural surge of strength he needed for the moment kicked in as his strength. Eventually he he arrived, in chains, to appeal to Ceasar who would judge with a right judgment (Jn. 7:24 ) and eventually Paul witnessed, once again, the faithfulness of God. He was found innocent of all charges brought against him by the troublemakers making a lot of noise, and this while seeking his very his life.
After given an opportunity to preach The Gospel to the Governor and others gather around, Paul was released and free to roam with no restrictions or hindrances Acts 28:30 tells, and acquired his own rented apartment with great liberty to preach Jesus and His Resurrection wherever he went.
This weak one made strong in the power of God, is a perfect example of how to handle adversity. He was content even in the worst of times and it was because of His relationship with God. Paul said:
2 Corinthians 12:10
"Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." He knew that whatever the circumstances God's power would equip Him for the job he'd been called. His relationship with the Living, Breathing God was one of abiding
in His Presence - regardless of the circumstances.
What was he really saying here? He was referring to the "supernatural" at work in His Life. In weakness I get my greatest surge of supernatural strength to endure what I cannot endure in my own strength. He had learned the source of his strength in weakness - Christ was His sufficiency of supernatural energy. You see, he was looking in the right direction in the midst of suffering and adversity. He learned he could trust in the faithfulness of God. He had learned this. And so, if we ever encounter anyone who seems so content with their circumstances, it just might be it's not their first rodeo. It's likely they had learned, yes learned, to trust God as faithful. They know that no matter what comes their way, that God is faithful with that supernatural surge of strength they need for the moment in time, that moment in time where they are weak in and of themselves.
So when we are faced with adversity we know that God was faithful
before, so we know He can be trusted again.
When one has lived more than they could endure - in and of themselves, their faith is generally increased in measure and the supernatural faith they live and breath is their testimony for a God who equips for the time of need. Some might view these advocates of the supernatural, as crazy, or as a child, and especially if the one so condescending in this way is highly educated and has never had to live and breath God's Strength in weakness or adversity beyond anything of their own strength. If they are accustomed to doing everything in their own strength they generally view those of us who have learned that God is faithful and will supernaturally equip us as needed, as "mentally disturbed." If one of your strongest gifts is "faith" (this a supernatural faith), you understand exactly what I am saying here.
Those who rely on their own strength and have not experienced God in adversity beyond anything of themselves, cannot understand those of us who move forward with God's gift of faith while knowing He is faithful. And this is why God also says "He has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, the weak things of this world to do the same. He works in this way that no man will boast of his own strength. This is why He also says:
" He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
How do YOU respond to adversity? Maybe you are in a situation that seems beyond your own power to endure as you know you must, and are thinking of running from your adversity if you could.
Sometimes God will take away our desires so that He can equip us for service, something He has planned and which we lack the bigger picture at the time. For myself, I desired and vowed to be the perfect mother, the perfect "family," and be that perfect wife. I so wanted all of this, but when cursed on a daily basis as worthless and this put mildly here, while attempted to make me to think I was not even fit for the human race - and this coming from my husband daily, I found my strength, yes that supernatural surge of strength and my identity, in how God viewed me. I'd not just read The Bible but study, and the more I found treasures in this book of deep insights, I was opposed even more on a daily daily basis.
When God took away my desire (the desire never left me though) to be the mother I wanted to be and sought to be but instead was confined to a very real prison in my home- and this through my husband, I realize now (hindsight teaches best) that God was equipping me to know that He is faithful no matter what. And in His great wisdom He also wanted me to come out a "winner" no matter as well. What He did in and through me was a work of equipping while teaching and fitting me into the bigger plan for my life, one I could not imagine at the time.
It's been a work in progress and now, decades later, I see and understand. God is faithful. And because all I do and teach is born out of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God gets all the glory and honor. If I cannot present what is from the very Heart of God, I wait until I can. If not inspired by God, I wait.
In the midst of great adversity beyond anything
of myself, my relationship with God grew with an increase of measure to this day. Truly, the
things of God have eternal value and they grow and grow with increase daily, and this for a lifetime.
How do YOU respond to adversity?
Paul, the skilled one with adversity and content in all situations, teaches us to be content. He teaches us that God is faithful and will provide that strength we need in weakness. Adversity is an opportunity to see what God can and wants to do - the grander plan of God. Adversity teaches us how to ride the winds of adversity just like the eagle who sits on the heights and watches with a keen eye- waiting. Waiting for that perfect wind to ride to it's desired destination.
The winds of adversity can and will work to our advantage, if we learn the secrets of God's Ways. He is faithful !