For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.Philippians 4:13, New Living Translation
Let’s establish this first: Apostle Paul wrote the words. They were a description of his ability and capacity. They were his testimony of a living faith in Jesus, demonstrated through actions and endurance, and shared in letters. We have made them “God’s word” to us. And while they are inspired, if we pan out to add context to our view, we find an anointed imprisoned man who wrote to encourage a body of believers. I found encouragement here that I want to share with you. There is something about the testimony of a tried and true son of God that stirs us to continue on in our journey, to run on and see that the end will be.
One morning as I opened my mouth to pray Philippians 4:13 aloud, my brain stopped me. I was stuck at “all things.” In verses 11-12, Apostle Paul shared how he learned contentment through the extremes: having a lot and being hungry, having abundance and being in need, and being on a mountaintop or in a valley. The Lord’s strength sustained him.
After years of sermons, classes, exhortations, and merchandise with this Philippians 4:13 message, I conclude now that this passage is meant to encourage us towards the Lord’s strength… and not the doing of all things. The line is subtle. While contentment is a powerful teacher and lesson, is it my lesson across experiences? Is it yours?
Today I hope this simple thought adjustment frees us to trust God’s strength. For the over-thinker, over-doer, and (recovering) perfectionist, I hope peace finds us here — in the strength of Christ. The sustaining strength of Christ helps us meet the highs and lows of our lives, which may look different than Paul’s. Selah. The strength of Jesus is the blessing to endure, address, and finish all the things, whatever the things are that confront us. This is the hope of a living faith in Jesus. We are never alone. In our weakness, we are made strong. In our flaky wavering, we are stabilized. In the nomadic times where focus and clarity elude us, our attention is reclaimed in the strength of Jesus.
I tell you, this one little adjustment toward Philippians 4 is renewing my mind to trust God more. I am a worker who is finally less obsessed with the works. I am looking to the source of my strength to help me complete His work. I wonder if this is what it is like to enter into the rest of God (Heb. 4:11).
Selah again, and love to all.
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"In the darkness of night, I wait expectantly for understanding and knowledge for your people."
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