Day 12

Encouragement and Prayer

from the Philippians reading plan


Philippians 4:10-23, Proverbs 11:24-25, Acts 20:32-35, 2 Corinthians 9:6-9

BY Guest Writer

Some call it “liminal space,” the time or space between what has been and what lies ahead. It might be a time of waiting or even transformation. These places can be painful or beautiful: a time of singleness or the joyful, anticipated waiting during engagement. The days of longing for children or the day after the youngest leaves for college. The darkness of depression or the lifting of anxiety. In these uncertain places, how can we learn to be content?

It’s likely that Paul wrote his famous declaration of contentment from inside the walls of a Roman prison, and yet his words brim with gratitude. His friends in Philippi were concerned, doing what they could to help him, and he acknowledged that just knowing they care is enough. He tells them, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little, and I know how to make do with a lot” (Philippians 4:11–12). In other words, “Thanks for your concern, but don’t worry! I’m going to be okay.”

In this letter, Paul is warm and optimistic, shifting the focus off of himself to encourage a church. His words radiate joy and humility bound up in a deep truth. Contentment doesn’t lie in comfort, and it doesn’t even lie in freedom. In this liminal space between living free or dying a brutal death, Paul shares this secret from behind bars: “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

In our own liminal spaces, maybe we can find a little bit of that strength too. Not in a naively optimistic way that ignores or denies reality, but in a solid confidence that someday this, too—everything, really—will be made right. And in this contentment, we can take the steps we need toward the changes we desire, from making friends in a new city, to scheduling a doctor appointment, to leaning on Him to get up and take each day one step at a time.

Consider the journey of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. This old metaphor of free-flying beauty springing forth from a squirmy, leaf-munching creature can sound a little cliché. But there’s a reason this image resonates and endures. The caterpillar doesn’t just spin a little capsule and pop out fully formed. It liquifies to a death-like state. It waits. It struggles to tear out of its chrysalis, strengthening its wings so it can fly. Stop the process too soon, or attempt to help a butterfly escape, and it’s over. Every step of the process is vital.

Perhaps our own waiting spaces are like that. Changing, struggling, and finding contentment in the shelter of God—over and over again, until we are made completely new. But regardless of the space we currently inhabit, whether moving forward in a joyful burst of enthusiasm or in a seemingly endless season of waiting—we are not alone. “In any and all circumstances,” we already know the secret of being content: Jesus Christ is our peace. And by His Spirit we are strengthened and equipped, enabling us to do all things.

Jen Rose Yokel is a poet, writer, a spiritual director in training, and a contributing writer at The Rabbit Room. Originally from Central Florida, she now makes her home in Fall River, Massachusetts, with her husband Chris. Some of her favorite things include used bookstores and good coffee. You can find more of her writing at jenroseyokel.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @jen_rose.

Post Comments (50)

50 thoughts on "Encouragement and Prayer"

  1. Tina says:

    Churchmouse, dearest sister, might I sit awhile with you in your waiting areas? Sitting together holding up loved ones in prayer, knowing that where two or more are gathered, He is with us, and that in His economy All is well and will be well, because He is God..and He is for us and our loved ones..
    Sending love across the pond to you and yours❤

  2. BeckyB says:

    Churchmouse, I have been praying for you and your family. Your words in the comments inspire me everyday. I read the article then I search comments for your insight. Thank you! Love to you and continued prayers

  3. Melissa Mcronney says:

    Lord help me to live Your word, in Jesus name I ask.

  4. Brittany Blazier says:

    Amen, these verses and this devo are exactly what I need today! Thank you, Lord Jesus ❤️

  5. Melanie Talbert says:

    God is so good. For a long time I had a fairly negative outlook as a response to the “naive optimism” I found so off putting. My current views of reality are much more grounded in confidence in God’s acceptance of me and moving towards a state of hopeful contentment through Him.

  6. Elisabeth H says:

    Everything about this spoke to me today. Content in waiting. I am not good at that. But with the help of Jesus, I can do it.

  7. PamC says:

    My heart is filled to overflowing this morning with all these beautiful words. Thank you Churchmouse & Tina, &Jen. We are looking at retirement. It’s scary because for the first time we don’t know where we’re going next except out of California because we can’t afford to keep our house, even though it’s fully paid for. Just the day to day living expenses & taxes are ridiculously high here. We’re having to find the balance between content & trusting God to lead us to where He wants us. It is definitely a day by day trust in His plan. “And by His Spirit we are strengthened and equipped, enabling us to do all things. Love to you all with thanks.

  8. Ashley White says:

    This really spoke to me this morning. I’m in a season of singleness and to be honest, I’m not happy about it at all. I’m very impatient and wanting that special men to come into my life, NOW. I’m tying to be content the best I can at this point. This just helped me a lot mentally. I still have some work to do though. ❤️

    1. Andrea Atwood says:

      God is with you Ashley. I waited in singleness for nine years and it was so hard. God is faithful though, and He did bring me the spouse that He promised. He will lead you. He will confirm to you. Don’t try to make anything happen in your own understanding. It is so so worth it. I’m praying for you today!!

    2. Andrea Atwood says:

      God is with you Ashley. I waited in singleness for nine years and it was so hard. God is faithful and He did bring me the spouse that He promised. He will lead you. He will confirm to you. Don’t make anything happen in your own understanding. It is worth it, and He will hold you in this in between times. I’m praying for you today!

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