Acceptance and Contentment

I have learned the secret of being content ... 
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
(Philippians 4:12-13 NIV)

During my years of study and decades of medical practice the emphasis was usually on preventing, eradicating, modifying or correcting disease. The aim was to get the person better and to restore the sense of well-being that is central to the WHO definition of health.  The aim was perfection and getting things right. We could be satisfied with nothing but the best. 
Leprosy was once a sentence to a living death as disability, deformity and social isolation became a way of life. But that is no longer the case. Multi-drug therapy and timely interventions to deal with the complications of the disease make the world of difference, even if it leaves some of its legacy. But many diseases remain incurable. With dementia, drug therapy may halt progress briefly, but otherwise it's a relentless disintegration of personality and cognitive functions. 
A Bible text hung on the wall of our home for many years: 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.' That encapsulated a positive approach to life. Margaret claimed it was one of her favourite scripture verses. So when she needed to be admitted to a nursing home for full time care we placed it in her room. But as the disease continued the words seemed to mock us. We all seemed impotent in the face of its progress.
In verses 11 and 12 of the same chapter Paul wrote about being content, whatever the circumstances. That became our prayer. Acceptance and adaptation became the bridge to contentment. This is more than a fatalistic resignation to what is, but rather a restful and respectful acceptance of the all-encompassing love of God, shared with us even in ultimate weakness. That has led to contentment.
Paul seems to have anticipated recent debate around redefinition of ‘health’. Some suggest the implied perfection of the current definition should be modified with some reference to adaptation. A new definition might read something like this:  ‘Health is a dynamic state of physical, mental and spiritual well-being, in which we are adapted to, and cope with our present condition.’ 

Should the Philippian text about doing all things through Christ be removed? We've decided to leave it in place. Even Paul had to learn that it takes strength to be content.
October 2015