Whenever I read or recall the above verse to mind I also remember a story I once heard. It was about a Jewish Christian who had lived in Germany during World War II. He lost everything. He lost his family business, home and wealth. He was put in a Concentration Camp and lost his good health and became a starved and ill man. And he had to watch his wife and children die before him. But he survived. And someone was speaking to him about his experience and asked him how he managed to hold it all together. His reply struck me and has continues to do so since. He said with tears streaming down his cheeks: “It is only when you lose everything that you realize that Christ is all you need”
Was the man unaffected by what he had been through? Did he not care about the loved ones he had lost? The suffering he had been through? I think not. He mourned for his family, he was grieved for what he had gone through but he also grasped the most glorious truth that it is possible to grasp: Christ is all we need. The Lord is our portion.
This is the lesson we learn. When trials, heartaches, suffering, illness, pain, temptations, loss, death and distress come our way we are always returned to this truth. The Lord is all we need.
David wrote a Psalm when all seemed lost:
“Look to the right and see: there is none who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for my soul. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
Psalm 142 v 4 – 5
There was no one for David to turn to, no refuge for him, he was in a dark cave and humanly speaking all was lost. And yet David grasps the truth we struggle with time and time again: God is our portion. He is all we need.
When bad things happens it is right, indeed good, to be sorrowful that what was once good is not so. But it is wrong to despair for God is our portion – we need nothing beyond him. The man who has God is complete.
Ever wondered the key to being content in all situations? As Paul writes:
“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 him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4 v 12 – 13
To be content in ever situation we must realize that as Christians we always have God. Everything else is a bonus. Even at our very least we are still the richest people in the world.
I can’t say this is an easy lesson to learn. And in our lives of plenty it is harder still. When things happen that we don’t want to happen our natural reaction is to get angry with God and resent his will. But our reaction should be to turn to him; for he is our portion.
“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Philippians 3 v 8 – 9
Do you consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ? Do you desire God above all things? Is God your portion? Imagine what is most valuable to you and losing it…would you say as Job did: “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord”
It is only when we route our all in God that we can join with Job and speak as he speaks. But, if you’re like me, you don’t really do this. The Lord is your portion but only partly your portion. There some other things in there you would despise to lose. Stuff that we would be a bit narked off at God if we lost. How do we break out of this? How do we make God the portion he should be?
“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”
Psalm 27 v 4
As with all such failings the best way to start correcting our sinful attitude is to pray to God. Ask that he would be your portion, your complete, whole and glorious portion. We need to prayerfully seek the Lord as our portion. You could read Desiring God as well if you wanted. It’s pretty good. Piper is such a lad.
Oh, what my ungrateful, cold and stubborn heart would have the Lord as its portion. Am I content in every situation? Do I delight wholly in God? Do I bless the Lord when he takes away? Like heck I do.
And it makes no sense. For only God can satisfy the deepest longings of our soul. Nothing else will do, nothing else will fill the void, it is only with the Lord as our portion that we can rejoice always, and again I say rejoice.
“How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”
Psalm 84 v 1 – 2
If only we could say along with Asaph:
“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”
Psalm 73 v 25
It is my hope and prayer that we would all be able to say in whatever situation:
“The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him”