I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)
It’s a wonderful verse. It is used in so many of the challenging, difficult and overwhelming situations that we face. We share it with folks when they – or we – are going through a hard time. It’s also a powerful marketing vehicle for Christian merchandise: sweatshirts, embroidered throw pillows, calendars and wall posters.
While our intentions might be pure, Philippians 4:13 doesn’t give us superhuman ability to conquer any trying issue – rather, a more humble, introspective view on the true source of our provision.
The apostle Paul was glad the church at Philippi cared about him and his ministry. Through them God met his needs, and he was grateful for their heart to serve. But Paul didn’t beg for help; he simply made his needs known and trusted God (Philippians 4:10). However, he had to learn to be content – whatever his circumstances.
For many of us, that’s a hard lesson. In a culture that drives us to seek “bigger, better, faster, stronger,” trusting God to provide our needs at the right time – because of our sin nature – has to be learned. Even for a spiritual giant, Paul knew what it was like to want – to have plenty and nothing, to be full and hungry. But he learned to manage – I can do all things – with whatever the Lord allowed him to have for the moment. And that’s the secret: learning to be content comes through the power and strength of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thinking we can do all things takes God’s sovereignty out of the need, denying us His blessing. Then it becomes all about us and not about Him. Trusting God might be the most challenging, difficult and overwhelming thing that we can do because we must surrender to Christ who is the One who strengthens us to do just that.
Our needs might be huge. Our problems might be insurmountable. But our trust in God and His power to meet our issues according to His plan and timing should give us tremendous relief and comfort. In a very real way, the pressure’s off – the Creator of the Universe is in control.
Written by Chaplain Paul Ciotta: Chaplain Paul serves at the Colony of Mercy, where men struggling in the bondage of addiction seek a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. He has been connected with America’s Keswick for more than 20 years as a vacationer, donor, and pastor/delegate and mentor to Colony graduates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.