I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.                                                                                   

Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV, 1978)

We recently presented our Admissions Coordinator at Adult & Teen Challenge with a small piece of art acknowledging one of her favorite phrases, “Suck it up, Buttercup.” In her defense, it should be noted that she is one of the most helpful and compassionate people you will ever meet. However, as a graduate of our program, she has limited patience when it comes to the endless “reasons” why someone has not completed their application or why the program will be too difficult or why this is not the right time for them to allow God to stop the endless cycle of bad decisions which will likely end in their death. Like a mother hearing, “WHY?” one time too many, the most patient can be pushed to the edge!

She expressed concern, however, that her favorite phrase does not appropriately capture the encouragement for which we would like to be remembered. I told her that I would be happy to add a reference that would “scripturalize” her sentiment.

If anyone had reason to lose patience in his endeavor to faithfully serve the Lord, it would have to be the Apostle Paul. He had likely shared the Gospel with more people and traveled more miles than any believer in his day—to say nothing about writing most of the New Testament we have today. Yet, for all his efforts, the Bible also records the times he was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, snakebit, and left for dead. When he says that God gave him the ability to “suck it up” and find peace and contentment in whatever situation he was in, that’s coming from the voice of experience!

Following Jesus does not immunize us from the difficulties of life, nor does it remove the consequences of our poor choices. However, “sucking it up” and acknowledging our weakness so that we can walk in God’s strength will enable us to have peace in the midst of that which we believe to be impossible to endure.