“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.” – Philippians 4:12-13
Before and during Lent, we spend a good deal of time talking about what we will give up. Of course, there are the usual suspects: chocolate, caffeine, salt, meat, fast food, among others. In my classes, I have often joked about our tendency to choose such things, saying, “That’s right, I’m participating in the suffering of Jesus by giving up chocolate.” We talk about Lent as if we are saying with Paul, “I know what it is to have little” or “I have learned the secret . . . of going hungry.” However, most of us have never nor will we ever experience true hunger or understand what it means to truly be in need. For that, we should be thankful. Giving something up for Lent is not a way to remind ourselves of what it means to suffer; instead, it is a way to remind ourselves of all we already have. In fact, we have so much in our lives that we can give something up year after year after year. We “know what it is to have plenty” and we “have learned the secret of being well-fed.” Now we simply must figure out how to be content with that.
Lord, help us find contentment not in the too much or the too little we have, but in the too much grace and love you give us. Amen.