by David Sisler

Which is easier to deal with, prosperity or poverty? If you answered “prosperity,” are you sure?

No family so dominated the American theater – both on the stage and in movies – like the Barrymores. They were so famous that John, the youngest of three siblings, published his autobiography before he was 45.

One day John was driving alone when his car plunged over a precipice. Barrymore, who was a Catholic, shouted, “Hail Mary! Hail Mary!” He repeated the prayer over and over and the car came to a stop. As he walked away unharmed, John Barrymore said, “I’ll take it from here.”

The Apostle Paul wrote, “We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed.

“We have much sadness, but we are always rejoicing. We have nothing, but really we have everything.

“I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor. And I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens. I have learned to be happy when I have all that I need and when I do not have the things I need. I can do all things through Christ because he gives me strength.”

That is quite different from praying a prayer of desperation, walking away from what should have been a fatal accident and then saying, “I’ll take it from here.”

Paul said, “I am anxious about nothing. I am content whatever my circumstances, because circumstances are not my joy. When I have nothing, I’m okay. When I’m prosperous, I’m okay, too. I have experienced in my mind that the joy of the Lord is my personal strength.”

Have you ever seen someone who claims to be a Christian, but does not seem to be enjoying His Lord? I’m not talking about living free from troubles. I’m talking about the person who professes Christ, but does not savor the Savior.

There may be a very simple reason. The joy of the Lord is not the strength of any disobedient Christian. Circumstances become the rule for that person’s life instead of Jesus who offers to rule over all of the situations life can bring.

All of nature depends on hidden resources. The great trees send their roots down into the earth to draw up water and minerals. Rivers have their sources in far-away snow-capped mountains. The most important part of a tree is the part you cannot see, the root system. The most important part of a river is source. The most important part of the Christian’s life is the part that only God sees. Unless we draw upon the deep resources of God by faith, we will fail against the pressures of life.

Which is easier to deal with, prosperity or poverty? It has been the experience of most of my life that when my stomach was full and my bank account like wise, I was not satisfied. Discontentment was the rule rather than the exception. But those times when our cupboard paralleled Old Mother Hubbard’s, I found it easier to trust God.

I knew in those circumstances that if there were to be found any solution, it would have to be found in God. So trust Him I did. At other times I allowed myself to believe that I could solve my own problems. After all, I was responsible for my position of prosperity, wasn’t I? But it was God who had blessed then, just as well.

Paul’s motto was, “I am ready for anything through the One who lives inside of me and gives me His strength.” The Christian’s roots are deeper than himself or his circumstances. That is the reason Paul could be content with plenty or penury. He was content with his Christ. And that’s the secret!


Copyright 2003 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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