One thing I love about going on a mission trip is how it increases my enjoyment of everyday life. When I return home, I appreciate everything so much more. Times of deprivation are a wake-up call to the daily benefits we routinely take for granted. Following a week of sleeping on an air mattress in a small tent shared with another team member in the Amazon, my king-sized bed felt enormously sumptuous. After a week of showers from a hose with unreliable water temperature and pressure in Cuba, my walk-in shower felt amazingly warm and luxurious. After weeks with no air conditioning in Cameroon, modern programmable temperature controls seemed extravagant. Following a week of tenting outdoors in the chill of the Arizona desert with a group of church youth, I lavished in the plushness of my comfortable bedroom. After a mission trip, everything I once took for granted becomes a source of delight!
Because of Covid-19, we are living during a time of communal deprivation. God may use this season as a wake-up call for us to appreciate the benefits we routinely take for granted. Eating at a restaurant, enjoying a live performance, watching the Razorbacks, having your hair cut, browsing at your favorite store, worshipping in church, laughing with colleagues in the office. We have been deprived of so many daily blessings resulting in discomfort and robbing us of joy.
Paul writes his letter to the Philippians from a prison cell in Rome. He is alone, cold, malnourished and is experiencing deprivation. Yet he pens a letter of appreciation and joy to the church. Paul says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 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 all this through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Paul discovered an important secret of the Christian life. The secret of contentment in all circumstances. Joy no matter what the day provides or prevents. The secret is his relationship with Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul learns contentment in times of uncertainty, appreciation in times of deprivation and strength in times of suffering.
What every day blessings have you missed since Covid-19 hit? What were you taking for granted prior to this season of separation? In a spirit of humble gratitude, name them one by one before God. Give God thanks for the overlooked daily blessings in your life. Prepare your heart for a future time and receive them with greater appreciation than you ever had. Our enjoyment will be all the sweeter when these small blessings resume. We are so blessed. Thanks be to God.