I was spilling my guts to my hubby. I shared with him an area where I’ve been struggling with people in my life. I had held it in for a while, trying to work through it, but nothing was changing. I decided it might be time to seek the wisdom of my sweet husband. He’s often my voice of reason when I’m struggling to find any. I explained to him how I felt as though they (unnamed people) had hurt me. I shared my hurt with him and as usual he listened intently without speaking a word until I had exhausted my case before him. When I finally finished telling him all the reasons they should and could do better and all the ways I felt as though they weren’t, he looked at me and said something I wasn’t expecting and couldn’t answer until now. He asked me, “So what do you want from them?”
I sat there silently because I didn’t have the answer. His question caused me to seek the root of the issue. What was it I was looking for? So for two weeks, I prayed and sought the Lord’s wisdom about the situation. And it finally hit me, I am seeking the support and approval of these people. But the moment the words left my mouth, the Lord filled my heart with His response. “Cassie, you don’t need their support or approval, you have mine.”
The Lord’s response took me to the book of 1 Samuel. Samuel had appointed his sons as judges over Israel but scripture says they did not walk in their father’s ways and “they turned toward dishonest profit, took bribes, and perverted justice.” So the elders of Israel got together and decided they wanted a king and made their request to Samuel.
“When they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” Samuel considered their demand wrong, so he prayed to the Lord. But the Lord told him, “Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have not rejected you; they have rejected me as their king.” 1 Samuel 8:6-7 CSB
I can’t help but find myself in this story. I’m the elders. I’m seeking support, approval, and ultimately fulfillment from a place, a person(s) who cannot give me what I seek. The Israelites, lost in their need, ultimately put their faith in an earthly king rather than the King of Kings. They unintentionally rejected the satisfier of their souls.
Obviously it isn’t wrong to expect and long for the support and approval of others. We are human and when we care for others, we often want and expect those things. But we cannot allow their approval or support or lack thereof to override that of our heavenly Father. I expect my people to support me, and when they aren’t, or when their approval doesn’t come, I cannot allow it to define me. I cannot allow it to stop the work God is doing through me. Christ in me moves me forward, fulfils me, satisfies me, and leads me.
The apostle Paul understood a thing or two about being satisfied in the Lord. So much so that he penned this scripture worn by every Christian athlete on the planet and spoken by most of us, like when it’s 5am and the alarm is sounding or when you’re on a diet and your coworker brings her famous brownies to work —“I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 CSB)
Paul is reminding us we can do it! We can refrain from the brownies, get out of bed, persevere through our circumstances.
It’s a beautiful scripture isn’t it! We love this verse and we should. It reminds us of the power of Christ in us. But have you looked closely at the verses prior to this one?
“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly because once again you renewed your care for me. You were, in fact, concerned about me but lacked the opportunity to show it. I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” Philippians 4:10-12 CSB
Paul was telling the saints at Philippi that because of Christ, he was content despite lack or abundance, well-fed or hungry, and I dare say, supported or not, approved by man or not. Their support did not determine his contentment.
Our fulfillment, our contentment, our satisfaction comes only from Christ in us. And I’m preaching to me today, friend. I love and want the support of my people. I love and want your approval, but if I never receive it, I can be satisfied knowing I have everything I need in Christ. I am loved, supported, and approved by my Heavenly Father and so are you.
Cassie Downs, formerly of the Ellsinore area, is a speaker and the author of Chasing Jesus. Connect with her online at cassiedowns.com. Her book is available online where most books are sold.