What have you learned from the mountain top experiences?
What have you learned from the valley experiences?
What have you learned through the journey?
What have you learned through the time of waiting?
What have you learned through the time of hard work?
Did you find your confidence in and through those times?
Where did you put your trust?
Who did you lift up or give thanks to?
And we were greatly encouraged. Although we were encouraged, we felt even better when we saw how happy Titus was, because you had shown that he had nothing to worry about. We had told him how much we thought of you, and you did not disappoint us. Just as we have always told you the truth, so everything we told him about you has also proved to be true. Titus loves all of you very much, especially when he remembers how you obeyed him and how you trembled with fear when you welcomed him. It makes me really glad to know that I can depend on you.
We also hear about Paul’s life experiences and what he went through, but he reminds us of the one truth we need to hold onto throughout every part of our day and life:
12 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. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Spurgeon’s morning devotional for day 41 speaks to this truth. No matter if we are at a highest of highs with more than enough or in the deepest valley wondering how we will make it through, God is enough. We need to make sure that at the top we give God the praise and don’t let it go to our heads. Like when you climb high the air gets thin, you don’t want to get light headed because of your successes. When we become light headed, we lose our balance and our focus and are ready to fall if we don’t know “how to abound”. If we aren’t ready then the devil will try to trick us and take us down. Consider when people tend to fall is it at the top or at the bottom? Spurgeon’s devotional puts it this way:
There are many who know “how to be abased” who have not learned “how to abound.” When they are set upon the top of a pinnacle their heads grow dizzy, and they are ready to fall. The Christian far oftener disgraces his profession in prosperity than in adversity. It is a dangerous thing to be prosperous. The crucible of adversity is a less severe trial to the Christian than the refining pot of prosperity. Oh, what leanness of soul and neglect of spiritual things have been brought on through the very mercies and bounties of God! Yet this is not a matter of necessity, for the apostle tells us that he knew how to abound. When he had much he knew how to use it. Abundant grace enabled him to bear abundant prosperity. When he had a full sail he was loaded with much ballast, and so floated safely. It needs more than human skill to carry the brimming cup of mortal joy with a steady hand, yet Paul had learned that skill, for he declares, “In all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry.” It is a divine lesson to know how to be full, for the Israelites were full once, but while the flesh was yet in their mouth, the wrath of God came upon them. Many have asked for mercies that they might satisfy their own hearts’ lust. Fullness of bread has often made fullness of blood, and that has brought on wantonness of spirit. When we have much of God’s providential mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God’s grace, and little gratitude for the bounties we have received. We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry–so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God. Take care that you ask in your prayers that God would teach you “how to be full.”
“Let not the gifts thy love bestows
Estrange our hearts from thee.”