Get a Grip on Life
July 18, 2021
By Dr. Hal Brady
Get a grip! Get a life!
On just about everything it is crucial to get a proper grip. This is true whether we are climbing rocks, gripping a golf club, throwing a football or baseball, or simply shaking hands. I reiterate, on just about everything, it is crucial to get a proper grip, and this especially applies to life.
Get a grip on life! Be content – that’s where Paul offers us great wisdom. He states, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). If anyone had reason to be angry, frustrated, and discontent it is Paul. Yet from a prison cell in Rome, Paul writes of being content. So, what does Paul say about living a contented life – getting a grip on life?
First, to be content, focus on the inner circumstances! For the most part, this goes against the grain of popular thought. Popular thought says that staying young and acquiring more and more things brings contentment. But note these things have to do with outward circumstances. In the cartoon, “Hagar the Horrible” by Chris Brown, Hagar says to his slaving wife, “l sail for England. Is there anything you want?” His anguished wife replies, “Yes…bring me back a new life!” It would seem that Mrs. Hagar is looking for new life in outward circumstances. And according to Paul, that’s the wrong tract. The real problem, however, of our discontentment, yours and mine, is not so much the strain of outward pressure as it is a spiritual inadequacy within. In reality, our problems are not too great; rather, our inner reserves of power are too low. E. Stanley Jones was correct when he said, “Most people do not break down from overwork but from under-being.
Second, to be content, keep on actively learning! Paul says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Note that contentment doesn’t necessarily come freely or easily to us, it requires that we go after it, to seek it. It has to be learned. It is a process. At the outset, we need to learn where contentment is not to be found. Contentment is not to be found in complaining or comparing oneself with another or in brooding over the past or in solely focusing on tomorrow.
Then where is contentment to be found? These could also be called “Indications of Life.”
1) Contentment can be found in growth! If a plant puts forth new leaves in the spring, it’s alive, and if it doesn’t, it’s dead. Life means growth.
2) Contentment can be found in gratitude! Someone has said that God has two dwelling places. One is in heaven, and the other is in a thankful heart.
3) Contentment can be found in a conscious relationship with God! Paul can be content because he knows the “ups and downs” of life are not permanent. Consequently, he does not confer permanence on either the ups or the downs. He knows that these things, whatever they are, do not have the last word. However, Paul does confer permanence on the companionship of Jesus. He admits that he needs the strengthening presence of Jesus in order to handle both the ups and the downs of life. That’s his real secret. He states, “I can do all things in him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Isaiah the prophet put it like this: “They who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings, like eagles, they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 43:31). Sounds like contentment to me. Contentment is learned.
Dr. Hal Brady is a retired pastor who continues to present the Good News of Jesus Christ and offer encouragement in a fresh and vital way though Hal Brady Ministries (halbradyministries.com).