"I have learned to be content ..." The Apostle Paul was under house arrest when he wrote those words. He was in a prison cell awaiting an audience before Caesar, a meeting that would ultimately lead to his death.
And even in this dire circumstance, he spoke of a peace that passes all understanding. Paul is old and worn and in prison, but still he uses the words, joy, rejoice, peace, content, and thanksgiving.
In these turbulent times, the world news is wrought with anxiety and perilous forecasts. The ripples of the economic tsunami are still flooding deeper and deeper into the heartland of America.
The times are so bad for some that it makes it hard to share optimistic words of hope with the downtrodden, because the words sound so callous and unsympathetic.
I was talking with a friend from the USO this past week, when the subject of gratitude entered our conversation. The crux of the discussion asserted that, in America, we have been so blessed for so long, that we have become accustomed to our indulgence. We have become unappreciative, such that, we have developed a sense of entitlement.
Now that the economy has tightened, and in some cases, fallen, we don't know how to live in moderation. We don't know how to feel grateful or content. We have set our affections on things and monetary futures.
What is so amazing for the most part is that most of us still have food, clothes, shelter, and live in the greatest country in the world.
I cannot change anyone's situation. I can only address your attitude and outlook. Falling on your back may be the only way to get you to look up. Redirections in life are new chances to live yet another chapter in your many lives on this earth.
Just think of your days as a child, then your days as a high school student, and then your days as a college student, or a young businessman. And then, think of your married life and your life with children, and then, your second career.
Aren't all of these transitions new chapters with their own set of challenges?
When you get old, like I am getting, you learn not to be distracted by the temporal. Keep your mind focused on the foundational truths of God's wisdom.
Quit listening to the negative prognosticators; turn off the TV, and go outside and enjoy the simple blessing we all enjoy. Breathe in the fresh air. Live modestly and look for opportunities to be a blessing to someone else.
God's blessings are all around you.
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things." Philippians 4.
If you have any comments on this column, or any other subject, please contact me at chaplain@airportchapel. org.
Dr. Chester R. Cook