By Devin Donnell
Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
YES! Because Jesus strengthens me, I can win the lottery, jump out of an airplane without a parachute, and win a basketball game. Right…? Well, let’s take a closer at what Paul is really saying here.
If we go back to 4:11 and 12, Paul says: “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” And, that secret is verse 13. Philippians 4:13 is not a magic phrase for us to get or do whatever we want.
It’s a sign of deep and vividly real relationship with Christ, one in which you are so confident in grace of God that nothing else matters.
Earlier in Philippians 3:8, after he lists all of his admittedly impressive worldly accomplishments, Paul says that he counts “all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus…” Doing all things in Christ is not a matter of personal gain but rather a matter of contentment in the position God has placed you in the moment.
For me, this is most evident (and most difficult to put into practice) when things seem to fall apart. I like to have a plan. I don’t always get every detail hammered out, but I do like to have at least a good general idea of how things are going to go. However, recently a lot of things have happened that I didn’t have in my plan. I didn’t plan on get rear-ended and my car getting totaled, and I definitely didn’t plan on the “new” vehicle I got needing a new engine a month after I bought it. I didn’t plan on having to be the only one here for the kid’s ministry for two weeks while Kurt and Renee were stranded in Arizona and heading some programs Kurt normally leads. When things like these pop up, it’s easy for me to get stressed out. I think: “I didn’t plan on this, and I don’t know what I’m going to do about it!”
I tend to focus on my inability, rather that Jesus’ ability.
Paul had many unplanned and rather unfortunate events happen in his ministry career. Just take a look at 2 Corinthians 11:22-27. But, despite all of this, Paul has learned to be content in any circumstance, even the unplanned ones. So, let’s all imitate Paul as he imitates Christ, and remember that we can do all things through Christ, even when things don’t go as planned.