We’ve all heard this exchange.

“How are you doing?”

“Okay, under the circumstances.”

This actually reveals a lot about our perspective. It is a declaration that we live under the weight of our circumstances. It grants authority to the things happening around us, allowing them to be our master.

When Paul says he has learned to be content in all circumstances, he does not mean he is equally happy with everything that happens. When he cites the litany of physical hardships he endured, it isn’t a gleeful description. 

Paul’s contentment is rooted in the perspective of living life above the circumstances. Paul has decided circumstances are not primary in determining contentment. Rather, it is the opportunity to chose that determines contentment.

The chance to serve his Master in all things is his underlying source of joy. In a very real sense, Paul’s life transcends circumstances. He views it as a privilege to serve in all seasons of life.

Paul’s mission superseded the very real effects of his circumstances. So too can it be for us.

Today is a day of circumstance. Things will happen. Thoughts will swirl. But we are not obligated to crumble under their weight. We are provided, through faith in Jesus, a transcendent mission that is the foundation for true contentment. A mission that invites us to live life above the circumstances.

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13