“Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Ever had a day where nothing seemed to go your way? If you are breathing, I am going to assume the answer to that question is “Yes!” It’s just a fact of life that you will face some unpleasant circumstances, whether trivial (waking up and discovering that you are out of coffee) or more serious issues (health concerns, relationship problems, etc.). Some circumstances we are able to change, but others we have to simply endure. The most important factor in dealing with difficult situations is our attitude.
Our attitudes form the framework or lens through which we view our circumstances and greatly influence how well we are able to cope with things that we cannot change. As a parent, I sometimes have to remind my son that he is going to cut the grass, clean his room, or participate in some family activity whether he wants to or not. It falls to him to decide whether he is going to do it with a good attitude or bad. As he matures, he is learning that some of the things he fought the hardest end up not being that big an issue when he just accepted it and pushed through.
The Apostle Paul is an excellent example of this kind of thinking. His letter to the Philippians, written while he sat imprisoned, gives us a glimpse at how he approached the circumstances of his life. We see that:
- Attitude has little to do with circumstances (v.11) — Your attitude is not determined externally (by fate or fortune), but internally (by you!)
- Attitudes can change, just like circumstances (v.12) — You are in control of your responses, which means you have the power to change your attitude when it stinks!
- Attitudes can be improved, if we learn the secret (v.12) — Good attitudes don’t just happen, it is a learnable skill.
- Attitudes have a source for their strength (v.13) — No matter what happens, God will sustain us and give us victory!
This is not new or ground-breaking information but occasionally we need a reminder. It is not unusual to find ourselves stewing in negative thoughts and feelings and needing something to help us get out of that feedback loop. In our family, we offer each other the chance to call for a “reset” when we’ve been speaking, acting, and reacting in a negative way. It’s our way of giving someone an out — an extension of grace.
God offers each of us the same grace. So, the next time you find yourself with a stinky attitude, just pray — ask God for that “reset” — and determine that you are going to have a better attitude. It will make all the difference in the world!
PRAYER: Father, thank you for being the source of our strength. Circumstances change but you do not. Help us to control our thoughts and maintain a positive attitude. Let your Holy Spirit comfort us in our frustration, and give us an eternal perspective. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen!