The truth that God is doing something in our lives to change us is so obvious it goes without saying, but yet it is one of the things we must be taught so we do not go to extremes.
In Philippians 4:12-13 Paul says he has “learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.” With the phrase “learned the secret” he uses a technical term that refers to the process of initiation. The initiation would include more than knowledge but a sequences of life experiences. The situations in life are then listed by Paul forming a quadrant. Paul says he has learned to be content when “well fed,” “hungry,” “in plenty,” or “in want.” These four may seem redundant in the English Bible as if saying “prosperity or poverty, or prosperity or poverty.”
The tenses of the verbs that Paul uses in the Greek text develops the quadrants that can categorize every situation in life.
The first prosperity phrase (“well fed”) is passive. Meaning Paul was the recipient and not the doer of the verb. In other words he did not cause it to happen. This is true of the last phrase (“in want”) indicating there were times that Paul was in need that were out of his control. Paul did not deserve or cause the lack in this situation, it was given to him. The other two phrases (“hungry” or “plenty”) are in the active tense meaning Paul did or created both of these in his life at some time.
All of these serve a purpose and is the manifestation of the goodness of God in our lives. You may be suffering undeserving like Joseph or deserving like Samson. You may be prosperous undeservingly like Solomon or deserving like Abraham. But, one thing is true, God’s goodness will eventually take you to all four quadrants and through his initiation you can be content in any of them.