In 1981 Tom shared in a letter with the people praying for him about what it means to be content in a world full of contrasts
This was written 42 years ago but the message is the same today. Many people have great contrasts in their lives but may not appreciate what those times are teaching them and what good can come from being content in all circumstances. Only a faith in Jesus can keep us focused on what is important.
Paul shares a secret to navigating a world that seems out of balance and confusing to us. It is only Him (Jesus) that can strengthen us to live in any situation and to be content.
Here is what Tom had to say.
“…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.” Philippians 4:11-13
In these verses Paul talks about being content in every situation. In a world of contrasts, it is a blessing to experience this contentment, though sometimes it’s hard to understand.
A world of contrasts
I have had the privilege to play basketball in Araneta Coliseum in Manila, Taipei Stadium in Taiwan, and the beautiful Shanghai Stadium in China. I have experienced and received a great blessing and contentment in each place. But I have also played on a grass court in Mindoro, in a fishing village in Luzon, in refugee camps against the boat people, in prisons and jails, in sandals and barefoot, with backboards nailed to banana trees and many other unusual and less impressive settings. And still that feeling of contentment and joy has been mine in those places, too.
I’ve had many nights under mosquito nets, on hard beds of wood, lizards as roommates, and a sore body from two games in one day. And I have experienced a fulfilling peace and contentment I could not explain.
I’ve known that contentment in every country. I have been content at the sultan’s palace in Mindanao, in mayors’ houses, governors’ mansions, and even while visiting the President of Taiwan.
I’ve known being healthy and strong and playing two games a day for a week. And having dysentery, a swollen tongue, fever, and not being able to get out of my bed. But still the peace and contentment is there. It’s difficult to explain.
In one country I showered from a bucket of water or in the river. In another, in a neatly decorated bathroom with hot running water and an adjustment on the showerhead for a water massage!
In one place you have to boil the water and in the other you just drink it from the tap. In one country I can share my faith or tell people about God. In another place I can get up in front of thousands at a basketball game and share Christ and my faith in Him. But in another country they need Bibles so badly there is only one for each house church if they are even that fortunate. In another they cannot decide which of the many versions they own to use.
At times I have lived like a king and other times like a bum
Usually, I feel I deserved neither. But I have learned that it matters not what we have or where we are or how we are treated that gives us contentment. By knowing Jesus Christ in a personal way and living for Him is the only way to contentment in this world.