Lucy Van Pelt: I know how you feel about all this Christmas business, getting depressed and all that. It happens to me every year. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or a bicycle or clothes or something like that.
Charlie Brown: What is it you want?
Lucy Van Pelt: Real estate.
(Charles Schultz, A Charlie Brown Christmas)
Paul: Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:11-13, ESV)
Too often I’m a lot more like Lucy than I am like Paul. It is very easy to be discontent and to feel sorry for myself. And yet, I have a lot to be thankful for: a happy marriage, a healthy family, friends, a good job, many small comforts that would be luxuries in much of the world. But instead of focusing on the ways God has blessed me and how I might live in gratitude, I think about things I want and circumstances that I wish were different. So I have to remind myself that I don’t have to give in to discontent.
Many years ago, when we moved to Kansas, we were in much worse circumstances than we are now. We really were in need, in many ways, and we were far from my parents and friends. But I realized that I could either be miserable or find a way to make the best of the circumstances. I started a women’s Bible study at the church we belonged to at the time — a study of Philippians. I got to know some people better and the study of Philippians helped me learn to accept my circumstances. Our situation didn’t change overnight, but my attitude improved and that made a big difference in my ability to cope. I had to trust God to provide, just as Paul did, and I saw how God does keep his promises to care for his people.
This is the time of year when it’s especially easy to let our circumstance get us down. But do you remember what happens in A Charlie Brown Christmas? Charlie Brown gets a sad-looking little tree for the Christmas program and everyone makes fun of it. Then Linus reminds them all of what Christmas is all about and by the end, everyone — even Lucy — makes the best of the little tree. So let’s remember what Paul teaches and trust in the God who strengthens us to rise above the circumstances.